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Operation “Weeping Willow” Nabs 17, More Arrests Pending

Operation Weeping Willow.jpg
Image courtesy Indian River County Sheriff's Office
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34 year old Heriberto Gamez of Fellsmere has been named as the leader of the alleged drug ring.

Indian River County-April 5, 2022: 17 people are now in custody on drug and weapon charges as the joint local and federal investigation dubbed ‘Operation Weeping Willow’ continues in Indian River County.

IRC Sheriff Eric Flowers says they called it Operation Weeping Willow because most of the criminal activity took place on Willow Street in Fellsmere. IRC Sheriff’s Detective Deputy Robert Sunkel named 34 year old Heriberto Gamez of nearby Booker Street in Fellsmere as the leader of the alleged drug ring. Gamez is being held on a nearly $6 million dollar bond on federal charges of manufacturing and selling illegal drugs.

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Image courtesy Indian River County Sheriff's Office
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“This is still an ongoing investigation so we’re not going to release a ton of details," said Detective Sunkel. "The main suspect in this investigation is Heriberto Gamez. He is the leader of this organization.”

16 other people have been arrested on a variety of other drug and weapons charges.

“These folks were clearly dealing in kilogram quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine, lots of drugs being moved around," said Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers, "and our investigation absolutely continues into that. There will be other arrests as a result of this case.”

7 handguns and AK pistols were seized, along with, 2 stolen vehicles, 14-thousand dollars in cash, and a large quantity of illicit drugs. “We took over 9 pounds of cannabis, 331 grams of cocaine, 188 grams of heroin, 700 grams of methamphetamine, and 150 grams of cocaine and methamphetamine mixture, along with lesser amount of MDMA, alprazolam, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydromorphone and amphetamine," said Sheriff Flowers.

Operation Weeping Willow.jpg
Image courtesy Indian River County Sheriff's Office
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The investigation is also looking into the murder of Allea Beemer and Brandon Gilley - and the disappearance of Amanda Towne. “We know that there are people out there who have information about these cases," said the Sheriff, "we need your help to make these cases.”

The 2 year investigation has involved the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the DEA, the Vero, Fellsmere, and Sebastian police departments, as well as the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.

Suspects Arrested:

  • 1. Heriberto Gamez-Gamez, 34, 1003 Booker St., Fellsmere; Held on bond: $5.88 million; Charges: Possession Sale Cocaine within 1,000 feet of Church x 18, Traffic Cocaine x 11, Possession Cocaine x 8, Federal - Sale Manufacture Delivery of Cocaine x 2, Federal - Possession Sale Methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of Church x 7, Federal - Possession Methamphetamine x 6, Federal - Traffic Methamphetamine x 4, Manufacture Methamphetamine, Federal - Possession Sale Oxycodone, Federal - Unlawful use of a two-way communications device
  • 2. Timothy Wayne Bardwell Jr., 51, 318 Breakwater Terr., Sebastian; Released on bond: $75,000; Charges: Traffic controlled substance
  • 3. Kate Nichole Chandler, 32, 541 Quarry Lane, Sebastian; Held on bond: $60,000; Charges: Criminal Conspiracy, Unlawful use of a two-way communications device
  • 4. Jerome Corey Clark, 47, 1043 Grant Ave., Fellsmere; Released on bond: $87,500; Charges: Felony - Sale Manufacture Delivery of Cocaine, Possession Cocaine, Possession Controlled Substance x3, Possession Drug Paraphernalia
  • 5. Alphonso Coleman Jr., 39, 1008 Vernon St., Fellsmere; Released on bond: $500; Charges: Resist Arrest without Violence
  • 6. Alphonso Coleman Sr., 73, 1006 Vernon St., Fellsmere; Release on bond: Time served; Charges: Possession Marijuana over 20 grams
  • 7. Kareem Hakeefe Coleman, 31, 1006 Vernon St. Fellsmere; Held on bond: Revoked; Charges: Misdemeanor - Possession Firearm/Ammo/ Electric Devices by Convicted Felon, Misdemeanor - Possession Oxycodone, Cruelty to Animals
  • 8. Jackely Contreras, 28, 1003 Booker St., Fellsmere; Held on bond: $110,000; Charges: Possession Cocaine with Intent to Distribute within 1,000 feet of Church, Possession Cocaine
  • 9. Jaime Hurtado-Cruz, 35, Dalton, Georgia; Released on bond: $5,500; Charges: Possession Controlled Substance without Prescription, Possession Marijuana under 20 grams
  • 10. Guillermo Estrasde, 35, 263 Elm St., Fellsmere; Released on bond: $4,000; Charges: Possession Controlled Substance, Possession Drug Paraphernalia
  • 11. Christopher Rodriguez, 27, 806 Mulberry St., Sebastian; Held on bond: Revoked; Charges: Traffic Controlled Substance, Possession of weapon by convicted felon x 2, Possession Cocaine x 3, Federal - Unlawful use of a two-way communications device
  • 12. Sivinti Orlando Ross, 51, 56 Elm St., Fellsmere; Held on bond: Revoked; Charges: Felony - Unlawful use of a two-way communications device, Felony - Sale Delivery Controlled Substance within 1,000 feet of Store x 2, Possession Cocaine x 2, Possession Controlled Substance x 2
  • 13. Omar F. Sanchez, 33, 165 Pine St., Fellsmere; Held on bond: Revoked; Charges: Conspire Traffic Cocaine 28 grams or more
  • 14. Jose Ramon Vazquez Jr, 62, 161 Stony Point Dr., Sebastian; Held on bond: $60,000; Charges: Criminal Conspiracy, Unlawful use of a two-way communications device
  • 15. Amanda Cecelia Walker, 57, Homeless Fellsmere; Held on bond: $115,000; Charges: Possession Sale Cocaine within 1,000 feet of School, Possession Controlled Substance without Prescription, Federal - Unlawful use of a two-way communications device
  • 16. Samuel Zamarripa, 36, 229 Willow St., Fellsmere; Held on bond: $75,000; Charges: Possession Cocaine with Intent to Sell
  • 17. Edgar Tomas Zamarripa-Esparza, 39, 229 Willow St., Fellsmere; Held on bond: $75,000; Charges: Felony - Unlawful use of a two-way communications device, Possession Cocaine

*Note: Some of the suspects were arrested earlier in the year, but are still connected to Operation Weeping Willow