Florida Hands Mexican Drug Cartel Leader 25-Years In Prison

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution secured a 25-year prison sentence on Friday for a member of the “Latin Kings” prison and street gang with ties to the Mexican drug cartel.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials continue to fight the Mexican drug cartel’s criminal activity in Florida. In recent days, multiple federal agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida have secured several victories against cartel criminals working to smuggle illegal drugs and immigrants in Florida.

“Lethal substances are flooding into our country due to [President Joe] Biden’s disastrous open border and we must continue to be dogged in our efforts to interdict this poison and aggressively prosecute traffickers,” Moody said.

Moody’s announcement regarding the Latin Kings case is part of a multi-agency operation to bring down a drug trafficking ring run by the Mexican cartel and Sur-13 gang (Sureños) in Florida prisons to distribute and sell fentanyl and methamphetamine in Florida.

Federal investigators found that Sureños gang members were collaborating with MS-13 and Latin Kings gangs under a criminal organization ruling umbrella called “the Mesa.” The group authorized gang requests to sell drugs from Mexico and California and to execute inmates in Florida prisons.

Gang members stayed in contact with each other from prisons located in Brevard, Charlotte, Holmes and Miami-Dade counties using contraband cell phones. They also used the phones to contact drug dealers and gang members on the outside to coordinate drug shipments and deliveries.

The sentence came a year after 22 attorneys general, including Moody, asked Congress to allow states to jam signals to contraband phones in prison: “If inmates were blocked from using contraband cell phones, we could prevent serious levels of drug trafficking, deadly riots and other crimes from happening.”

The prison sentence Moody obtained this week — for one of the drug dealers working outside of the prisons — was for two counts of conspiracy to traffic in over 200 grams of methamphetamine. It was the first of 25 defendants awaiting trial for their role in the drug ring.

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden said his “narcotics unit is exceptionally adept at targeting major drug traffickers.” He said, “if they set up in Hendry County, we will find them and eliminate them.”