Operation Pocket Dial: Florida Drug Ring Busted after 2 Year Investigation, 11 Charged

Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: BayNews9 / justice.gov

11 Charged in 2-Year Investigation into Bay Area, Central Florida Drug Ring. The drug bust was headed by FBI and Dept. of Justice. Authorities said trafficking took place in Tampa and Kissimmee, Florida.

Tampa, Florida: Federal prosecutors have indicted 11 people on drug trafficking charges after a two-year investigation.
The suspected drug traffickers have been arrested and accused of targeting Tampa Bay and Central Florida. According to federal prosecutors, the traffickers pushed heroin and the deadly synthetic drug fentanyl into the region, causing at least one death. At least one person died of an overdose and others were sickened.
The 11 defendants each face federal charges of conspiracy and drug distribution. They could face penalties ranging from five years up to life in prison.

Authorities did not release much information because they said more arrests and indictments could be coming and they didn’t want to compromise this case.
“Their distribution of these deadly drugs heroin and fentanyl resulted in the overdose and deaths of one individual and serious bodily injury of another individual,” said Michael Sinacore, Asst. US Attorney. 
The investigation lasted two years and it was a joint investigation between the FBI, The Department of Justice, Tampa Police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The heroin and fentanyl was trafficked throughout Tampa and Kissimmee, officials said. This started as early as 2016 and continued well into August of this year. Indictments were handed down last month and the arrests were made this week.
“Today’s announcement is a resounding message,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We are committed to protecting Hillsborough County. We will continue to go after people who choose to deal poison in our community.”
From USDOJ:
U.S. Attorneys » Middle District of Florida » News
Department of Justice  U.S. Attorney’s Office   Middle District of Florida
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Operation Pocket Dial Results In Eleven Drug Traffickers Charged For Conspiring To Distribute Heroin
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, along with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, announces several recent arrests in “Operation Pocket Dial” – a joint investigation targeting heroin and fentanyl distribution networks in Tampa and Kissimmee.
Three indictments were unsealed this week charging a total of 11 members of drug trafficking organizations with offenses related to the distribution of heroin and fentanyl. (See chart for details).
In December 2019, two additional defendants, Eric Manuel Robles Rivera (45/Orlando) and Eddie Quinones Santiago (38, Kissimmee), were charged as part of this investigation. Robles Rivera previously pleaded guilty to possessing heroin with the intent to distribute it and, in July 2020, he was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. Quinones Santiago is scheduled for trial in October 2020.
According to the indictments just unsealed, between January 1, 2016, and continuing through August 27, 2020, the defendants conspired to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the Middle District of Florida. The defendants distributed heroin and fentanyl on multiple occasions, and the use of the heroin and fentanyl resulted in death and serious bodily injury.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This investigation is the result of a partnership between the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Sinacore.
This investigation is the result of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) program. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
Name,  Age,  Residence,  Charges,  Maximum Penalties
–William Franqui, a/k/a “Gordo” (35, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of heroin and fentanyl resulting is serious bodily injury
Distribution of heroin (two counts)
Mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                    
Mandatory minimum 20 years, up to life, in federal prison
20 years in federal prison (per count)
–Marie Rodriguez (39, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of heroin (two counts)
Mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                     
20 years in federal prison (per count)
–Kevin Darnell Diaz Tirado (27, Clearwater)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of heroin (two counts)
Mandatory minimum 10 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                           
20 years in federal prison (per count)
–Edgardo Colon Rosado (28, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of heroin (two counts)
Mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                     
20 years in federal prison (per count)
–Jose Miriel Morales Sanchez (29, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison
–Orlando Muniz Escalera (26, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of heroin
Mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                           
20 years in federal prison (per count)
–Leslie Pagan (39, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of heroin and fentanyl resulting in death
Distribution of heroin and fentanyl (eight counts)
Mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                                   Mandatory minimum of 20 years, up to life, in federal prison
20 years in federal prison (per count)
–Jackylin Bonifacio (36, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of heroin and fentanyl resulting in death
Mandatory minimum of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                                
Mandatory minimum of 20 years, up to life, in federal prison
–Steven Echevarria, a/k/a “Unca” (34, Tampa)
Conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute,  one kilogram or more of heroin and fentanyl
Distribution of fentanyl
Mandatory minimum of 15 years, up to life, in federal prison                                                            
30 years in federal prison
–Nathaniel Quiles, a/k/a “Chuleta” (35, Kissimmee)
Conspiracy to distribute  one hundred grams or more of heroin
Distribution of heroin
Mandatory minimum of 5 years, up to 40 years, in federal prison
20 years in federal prison
–Kiara Marie Rivera Serrano (29, Kissimmee)
Conspiracy to distribute  one hundred grams or more of heroin
Distribution of heroin
Mandatory minimum of 5 years, up to 40 years, in federal prison
20 years in federal prison