SHARPES, Fla. — One of the largest drug trafficking investigations in the history of Brevard County led to the seizure of half a million deadly doses of fentanyl, the Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
- Half a million deadly fentanyl doses seized in massive drug investigation
- 75 firearms, 9 pounds of meth also seized, about 100 warrants issued
- DeSantis: Attorney General looking at litigation against opioid companies
About 100 warrants were served on suspected opioid and methamphetamine dealers Wednesday morning in a six-month-long investigation that stretched to other counties in the state, the Sheriff's Office said. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was also involved in the investigation, with assistance from the Brevard/Seminole State Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"This is without question one of the largest cases in the history of Brevard County," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said during a news conference. Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Attorney General Ashley Moody also were in attendance.
Seized in the investigation was 75 firearms; nine pounds of meth; heroin; and three pounds of fentanyl, all valued at almost $200,000.
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid drug that's 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, the agency said. It's being mixed with other drugs to increase dependency, it said.
"These are the faces of your next door neighbor. These are the faces of people you grew up with, went to school with," Ivey said.
A 2-mg dose of fentanyl is deadly for most people, so three pounds could potentially kill more than 500,000 people, investigators said.
"When you have people bringing in enough fentanyl to kill hundreds of thousands of people, that's a menace to our society," DeSantis said.
The suspects "preyed upon those with addictions to fund their games, their toys, doing what they wanted to do and caring about no one else... and that is sickening to see," Ivey said.
"These people were making a pretty good living off dealing poison to our citizens," he said.
About 35 of the more than 50 suspects rounded up in the drug ring boarded a jail bus Wednesday. The three suspected ring leaders include 35-year-old Brandon Huff, 42-year-old Jonathan Walker, both from Cocoa; and Megan Wilborn of Merritt Island.
Huff and Wilborn were just released from jail on bond last month after being arrested on drug charges, the Sheriff's Office said.
Charges range from drug trafficking to racketeering. Those arrested in the case face prison time from three to 25 years behind bars.
More than 50 more arrest warrants are being served.
Right now, 17 people die of fentanyl overdoes every day in Florida. Medical Examiner records show that just in Brevard County, 650 people have died from opiate overdoses in the past decade.
"We can decrease demand, and that will decrease the supply," Moody said. "And with all of us banding together, we will end this crisis."
Moody said prosecutors are working to find ways to charge fentanyl traffickers with murder in the wake of overdoses.
DeSantis added that Moody's office is spearheading litigation against some pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids.
"These companies knew that this stuff was very addictive, and you see the way they conducted themselves for a long time," DeSantis said.
The seized drugs will be processed with the help of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, then destroyed under a judge's order, Ivey said.