Operation 13 Tiers: 25 Suspects Charged, 48 Pounds of Fentanyl Seized
Florida - Thursday October 13, 2022: Federal, state and local law enforcement officials Wednesday announced multiple drug and other felony charges against of 25 suspects with links to Mexican drug cartels, as well as the seizure of 48 pounds of fentanyl, among other drugs, cash, and guns.
"My narcotics unit is exceptionally adept at targeting major drug traffickers," said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden. "The criminal element needs to understand; if they set up in Hendry County, we will find them and eliminate them.”
The two year investigation, named 'Operation 13 Tiers', eventually involved the Ft. Myers and Wauchula police departments; the Lee, Highlands, Polk and Hardee County sheriff’s offices; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; the Florida Department of Corrections; Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution; Homeland Security Investigations; and the FBI.
The leader of the gang has been identified as Carlos Martinez, a Florida prison inmate. Martinez is accused of contacting gang members outside the prison and directing them to ship drugs to various locations in Florida, and elsewhere in the U.S.
Authorities are still searching for 39-year-old Efren Berumen, of Ponce De Leon Road, Kissimmee. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact FDLE Ft. Myers at (800)-407-4880.
This case, combined with several other drug busts over the past few months, brings the total amount of fentanyl seized in Florida to nearly 85 pounds, enough to kill everyone in 66 of Florida’s 67 counties. Also seized were 15,000 fentanyl pills, 380 pounds of methamphetamines, 1 pound of heroin, a half-pound of morphine, $150,000 in cash and 45 guns.
Prosecutors have charged 25 defendants, including SUR-13 gang members (also known as Sureños), with multiple felony counts related to drug trafficking, violent criminal acts and conspiracy. Sur 13, Southern United Raza, or Sureños X3 are groups of loosely affiliated gangs that pay tribute to the Mexican Mafia.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is the lead law enforcement agency making arrests in this case. FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said, “Violence was often used to protect and further their large drug trafficking operation in southwest Florida ... There is no question that lives have been saved in Florida because of this case.”
The defendants are: Hugo E. Cruz, aka Houdini; Carlos H. Martinez, aka Carlos Maya-Reyes, aka Indio; Rachel Gonzalez, aka Loka; Adolfo Magana, Jr.; Brayn L. Trejo; Dennis A. Perkins; Reba B. Perkins; Juan Carlos Cruz, aka Spider, aka Arana; Joseph W. Whitehead, Jr.; Juan S. Guijosa, Jr.; Omar Hernandez; Valentin Gomez; Esmeralda Guevara; Andres Bustamante; Johnny Cisnero; Franklin Guillen Lara; Jose Francisco Ramirez, aka Chico; Ruben Quinones, aka Yago; Efren Berumen, aka Brownie, aka Brown Aguila; Jonathan Martinez aka J-Blue; Stephanie Martinez, aka Lady Blue; Thomas E. Busby, II, aka Gutta; Mary Osorio; Jose F. Martinez, aka Guapo; Gregory Enegess, aka Poet.
The 25 defendants are being charged with 64 total felony counts, including: racketeering; trafficking in amphetamine, trafficking in fentanyl; trafficking in cocaine; trafficking in oxycodone; trafficking in illegal drugs, to wit: morphine; conspiracy to commit racketeering; conspiracy to traffic in amphetamine; conspiracy to traffic in fentanyl; conspiracy to traffic in heroin; conspiracy to traffic in cocaine; conspiracy to commit first degree murder to further the interests of a criminal gang; conspiracy to commit aggravated battery upon a person who is being detained in a prison, jail or other detention facility to further the interests of a criminal gang; and directing the activities of a criminal gang. Each count is a first-degree felony or higher.
Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Tim Donnelly of Attorney General Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the case.
"The prevalence of this dangerous substance poses a critical threat not only to the wellbeing of the citizens of our state but also our nation," said Attorney General Ashley Moody. "Until President Biden takes action to address the border crisis that is emboldening Mexican drug cartels to bring record amounts of these dangerous substances across the border—fentanyl will continue to kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.”
Additional fentanyl cases from around the state from the past few months include:
- Oct. 10, Hernando County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 1.2 pounds of fentanyl
- Sept. 21, Clay County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 8.35 kilograms of fentanyl
- Sept. 20, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office seized 3 kilograms of fentanyl
- Sept. 16, Flagler County Sheriff’s Office seized 219 grams of fentanyl
- Sept. 8, Fort Walton Beach Police and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 48.6 grams of fentanyl
- Aug. 19, Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force members seized 192 grams of fentanyl
- Aug. 11, Palm Bay Police officers seized 412.7 grams of fentanyl
- Aug 4, Hernando County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 252.9 grams of fentanyl
- July 28, Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 2 pounds of fentanyl
- July 14, Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 180 grams of fentanyl
- June 2, Lee County Sheriff’s Deputies seized 0.5 kilograms of fentanyl
Attorney General Moody continues to warn Floridians that just one pill laced with fentanyl can kill. For more information about the dangers of drug use, check out DoseOfRealityFL.com.