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Massive Fla. drug trafficking operation reveals drone was used to try to drop contraband into prison

During the operation, law enforcement, working with prison authorities, successfully thwarted a murder-for-hire plot targeting an inmate

By Sarah Roebuck

SANFORD, Fla. — A drug trafficking operation netted 20 arrests and prevented a possible murder-for-hire against an inmate, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma announced.

The identified suspects were involved in distributing various drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, meth and “Molly,” as well as an assortment of weapons such as machine guns, rifles and handguns, the sheriff said.

Lemma noted during a press conference that in one instance during the operation, law enforcement officials were able to prevent a potential murder-for-hire plot against an inmate through collaboration with prison officials. This collaboration also led to the interception of a drone that was attempting to deliver cellphones, SIM cards, razors, tobacco and other contraband into a Florida correctional facility, leading to the arrest of two individuals in Jackson County.

The law enforcement initiative, named Operation Black Ice, began in October 2023 and included collaboration among local, state and federal agencies.

Key findings from the investigation include:

  • The undercover acquisition of over $160,000 worth of drugs, resulting in the seizure of significant quantities of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, Molly, Xylazine, marijuana and 10 firearms.
  • Confiscation of 18.5 kilograms of cocaine and an additional 13 firearms from a related residence.
  • Disruption of a murder-for-hire plot and a drone smuggling operation into a correctional facility, leading to two arrests in Jackson County, Florida.
  • The apprehension of a UPS distribution manager who redirected and personally delivered packages containing drugs.

“For years, we have emphasized that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug epidemic facing our country, but we also must hold drug dealers accountable to the fullest extent of the law. This scale of this investigation exemplifies the importance of collaboration among law enforcement agencies and underscores our commitment to tackling illicit narcotics on our streets, especially fentanyl and the associated organized crime,” Lemma said in a statement.

In the video below, Gordon Graham discusses how to combat contraband in correctional facilities.