The Homeland Security Investigations department of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted several simultaneous takedowns in collaboration with other local and federal law enforcement agencies on Wednesday. The operation, known as “8 Ball”, resulted in the arrest of as many as 44 people in Kissimmee and Mayaguez in Florida for allegedly participating in an illegal firearms and drug trafficking conspiracy.
The indictment indicates that those taken into custody knowingly conspired to intentional possession of the likes of crack, cocaine, Xanax, marijuana and Percocet, with intent to distribute. This was within just 1000 feet of the property, which comprises the Columbus Landing Public Housing Project. According to the indictment, in 2010 the organization began establishing drug distribution points in many different housing projects in Mayaguez, and the 44 conspirators performed different roles, such as suppliers, runners, facilitators, drug point owners and sellers.
Many of the defendants are accused of carrying, possessing, brandishing and using firearms to defend their persons and their organization from other gangs. Of the 44 arrested, 22 also face a charge of having carried and used a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense.
Title 21 of the US Code, covering the distribution, importation, manufacture and possession of illegal drugs, is enforced by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Agents of the Homeland Security Investigations department, which enforce Titles 18 and 19 relating to customs violations and smuggling, have a wide range of knowledge on the border environment and the methods by which smugglers transport contraband into the US.