A partnership between the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and several enforcement agencies around the Big Bend area resulted in putting 27 suspects behind bars on charges related to drug crimes.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, their officers were joined by members of the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, the office of the State Attorney, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tallahassee Police Department in Operation No Warning.
The operation was developed to target crimes related to drugs, including large-scale trafficking in Gadsden and Leon Counties.
Operation No Warning began in June of 2020, and investigators say the drug-trafficking organization targeted by the operation was responsible for spreading large amounts of illegal drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, molly and marijuana throughout Florida, but predominantly in the areas of Leon and Gadsden Counties.
Investigators also believe the trafficking had spread into areas of Georgia, Texas, and California.
“The work of our agents, analysts and partners on this case highlights the positive impact law enforcement has on the safety and wellbeing of its citizens,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “I want to recognize our members who dedicated much of this past year to Operation No Warning and our partners who have helped with every aspect of the case. We’ll never know the lives saved throughout Florida because of the work on this investigation.”
The department’s Special Agent In Charge Mark Perez commented that many of the suspects arrested through Operation No Warning had “significant” criminal histories with connection to violence and gang membership.
“..All [which] played a key role in this large drug-trafficking organization responsible for spreading illegal drugs throughout North Florida,” added Agent Perez.
“When law enforcement agencies and prosecutors work together to remove dangerous criminals and illegal contraband from our communities, there is no doubt lives are saved,” said Florida Highway Patrol Colonel Gene Spaulding. “I commend all of the agencies involved in Operation No Warning for their commitment to ensuring our loved ones are safe.”
Of the 27 individuals identified and arrested through Operation No Warning, four of the suspects were from the Gadsden County area.
Danate Miller, Donald Ray, Ivory, Jr., Cody Marcell Zellars, and Rashard Jamell Jackson, all of Midway, were arrested through Operation No Warning.
“I am thrilled at the results of this investigation. Collaborative efforts such as these are invaluable to rural counties, especially when conducting multi-jurisdictional investigations,” said Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young.
According to Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody, the United States is currently in the midst of an opioid crisis, and Florida sees nearly 17 deaths a day related to that crisis.
“When you factor in other deadly drugs, the mortality rate rises even higher. The people who peddle these poisons must be brought to justice, and multi agency operations like this one are so vital to our mission to end the opioid crisis and save lives,” says Moody. “Not only did law enforcement confiscate heroin during the operation, they also seized enough fentanyl to kill approximately 28,350 people – that’s almost equal to the populations of Franklin, Lafayette and Liberty County combined.”
Moody adds that her statewide prosecutors will continue to “aggressively” litigate the case and ensure justice is seen in the courtroom.
Florida State Attorney Jack Campbell thanked the participating law enforcement agencies for their work in Operation No Warning, commending their “outstanding work” during the several months of investigation and arrests.
“While our community has been in isolation due to the pandemic, the sad truth is that crime has not stopped. Whether combating the violence that always accompanies the trafficking of narcotics or the misery of those addicted, your local partners have continued to work unabated during these many months,” said Campbell. “Now that the arrests have been made, we will work with our State and Federal partners to bring comfort to our victims and justice to the people who make their living poisoning our streets.”
During the investigation procedures of Operation No Warning, agents seized 30 pounds of cocaine, half a pound of methamphetamine, more than one pound of brown heroin, three ounces of black tar heroin, over two ounces of fentanyl, more than $330,000 in cash, nine firearms, and three stolen vehicles.
Both the offices of Attorney General Ashley Moody and State Attorney Jack Campbell assisted in the investigation and will prosecute the cases.
Gadsden County’s four arrested subjects were charged with:
Danate Miller, 45, Martin Luther King Blvd., Midway: Charged with trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Donald Ray Ivory Jr., 52, Ponderosa Lane, Midway: Charged with trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Rashard Jamell Jackson, 32, East Brickyard Road, Midway: Charged with trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Cody Marcell Zellars, 27, Palmer Road, Midway: Charged with trafficking in cocaine.
By Ashley Hunter, Gadsden County News Service