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South Florida HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1990
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:
    Florida:

Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties

    Contact: (954) 430-4906

Mission Statement:

The mission of South Florida HIDTA is to enhance and facilitate the coordination of South Florida's drug control efforts among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in order to eliminate or reduce drug trafficking and related money laundering and violence and their harmful consequences in South Florida and other regions of the United States.

Threat Abstract:

Florida is currently the 4th most populous state and is projected to become 3rd in the nation. The region includes the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolis, the 5th most populous metropolitan region of the United States. The South Florida region remains one of the major illicit drug centers in the United States.

Major drug trafficking operations – cocaine, heroin, marijuana, MDMA, and diverted pharmaceuticals are all concentrated heavily in the South Florida area. Cocaine alone is a multibillion dollar criminal enterprise orchestrated by international, regional and local criminal enterprises. The other major regional threat drugs – heroin, MDMA, and marijuana – represent similar criminal ventures of near equal proportion in the region.

The South Florida HIDTA region is located in the critical United States gateway from Latin America and the Caribbean It's geographic area is divided into four counties – Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach.

The area is a contiguous metropolitan corridor along the Atlantic Ocean. It includes South Florida's three major international airports, three major deep-water international seaports and an efficient ground-based network that includes well- developed interstate highway, rail, and other transportation systems.

The South Florida drug threat consists of the following major drugs, each with its significant regional and international money laundering activities:

Colombian-supplied cocaine and heroin
   
Crack cocaine
   
European produced MDMA
   
Jamaican, Mexican, Canadian and local marijuana
   
Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Colombian cocaine and heroin shipments continue to arrive in South Florida from Colombia and the Caribbean islands. These same drugs also arrive directly from other South American countries, including Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. The drugs arriving in South Florida include major quantities earmarked for delivery to other

United States and European markets. In addition to the South Florida area, the drugs are transshipped to other areas to include New York and New Jersey in the northeast and numerous states in the Southwest and Central United States.

The South Florida HIDTA Initiatives identified a total of 255 drug trafficking organizations for CY 2003; there were 339 disruptions and 143 DTOs were dismantled. These drug trafficking and money laundering organizations represent the known threat organizations that are operating in the South Florida HIDTA region. All are considered national and/or international in scope.

Strategy Abstract:

The tri-county area of the South Florida HIDTA represents part of one federal district, the Southern District of Florida. Within it, each federal agency has a regional leader who represents his organization and jurisdiction, and ensures that his personnel pursue their agency's mission while they coordinate with other law enforcement organizations. Similarly, the state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies use the authority of their jurisdictions to carry out their missions in overlapping geographic areas. HIDTA-participating agencies submit annual proposals for multi-agency initiatives to address drug trafficking and related money laundering and violence identified by these agencies and in the HIDTA's Regional Threat Assessment. The proposals are grouped into task force initiatives instead of single agency programs. Once reviewed by a subcommittee and approved by the South Florida HIDTA Executive Board, collocated task forces that strategically attack criminal systems and target organizations implement initiatives.

The HIDTA Executive Board includes eight federal and eight state and local representatives. In FY04, it is chaired by Major Gary Moore, Broward Sheriff's Office, with a federal agency Principal Field Officer Mr. Marcos D. Jiminez, United States Attorney, as vice chair. The chair, vice chair and all Executive Board members are selected by their peers according to guidance from ONDCP. The South Florida HIDTA Director, Timothy D. Wagner, was nominated by the Executive Board and approved by the Director of ONDCP. The HIDTA Director and Deputy Director, Joel Widell, provide day-to-day program management, brokering and support to the initiatives approved by the Executive Board. He serves as a conduit for directives, policy and related administrative information required by ONDCP

The South Florida HIDTA-participating agencies focus on disrupting and dismantling international organizations and conspiracies devoted to smuggling illicit drugs into the United States and distributing them throughout the country, as well as organizations involved in laundering the profits of the illicit drug industry. They also target organizations and individuals that use violence in the furtherance of these criminal activities.

Investigative Support Center:

The SFLHIDTA Intelligence Center (SFLHIC) is a multi-agency investigative support center that provides analytical assistance through specialized intelligence for law enforcement agencies in South Florida. The Center provides actionable intelligence through target research, organization analysis, and development. Direct case support is available to more than 100 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties The SFLHIC is designed to take maximum advantage of today's state-of-the-art information technology such as the HIDTA Intranet Base Information System (HIBIS), which is a web-based portal that links seven subsystems into one web environment.

Participating Agencies:

FEDERAL: ATF, CBP, DEA, FBI, Federal Bureau of Prisons, ICE, IRS, NDIC, USAO, USBP, USCG, US Department of State, US Dept. of Defense, USPS, USSS

STATE/LOCAL: Aventura PD, Bal Harbour PD, Broward Sheriff's Office, Coral Gables PD, Coral Springs PD, Davie PD, Florida City PD, Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida National Guard, Fort Lauderdale PD, Glades PD, Hallandale PD, Hialeah PD, Hollywood PD, Homestead PD, Indiancreek PD, Key Biscayne PD, Key West PD, Lauderhill PD, Lighthouse Point PD, Margate PD, Medley PD, Miami Beach PD, Miami PD, Miami-Dade PD, Miramar PD, Monroe County Sheriff's Office, N. Bay Village PD, N Miami PD, Pembroke Pines PD, Plantation PD, State Attorneys Office, Sunny Isles Beach PD, Sunrise PD.

Significant Achievements:

Of the 85 new OCDETF investigations initiated in South Florida, 34 (40%) are by HIDTA initiatives

Miami Task Force Operation Capstone was initiated as a result of the prior MTF Operation Cornerstone investigation against Cali Cartel leadership in which 47,000 kilograms of cocaine were seized. The continuation of this investigation targets the remaining leadership of the Cali Cartel still operating as a key drug trafficking organization.

During 2003 the investigation resulted in the indictment of the leaders of the notorious Cali Cartel, 11 defendants, including the two founding members, brothers Miguel- Rodriguez-Orejuela and Gilberto Rodriguez- Orejuela. The indictment charges the laundering of $2.1 billion worth of drug proceeds as well as narcotics trafficking including smuggling and obstruction of justice through multiple murders and payoffs. Extraditions are anticipated in late
2004. Thus far, five subjects have been taken into custody.

Operation Double Trouble, a long term investigation targeting the Henao Organization which utilized the Black Market Peso Exchange, offshore banks, and corporations to launder drug proceeds has arrested 60 defendants and seized 40 bank accounts to date. During 2003, a 30 count indictment was issued, charging 36 individuals with money laundering and narcotics-related charges. During August 2003, 28 subjects were arrested. This was recognized with an Outstanding Task Force award by the Director, ONDCP in December 2003.

Operation X targets three international drug trafficking money laundering organizations. To date the investigation has dismantled two organizations, arrested 20 subjects and seized $3.1 million in assets. In December 2003, an additional indictment was returned.

Operation Riptide has targeted multiple Colombian Peso Brokers. During 2003, the initiative dismantled four significant money laundering organizations, disrupted seven, and seized almost $12 million in currency.

Operation Green Sweep, a Broward County HIDTA task force investigation targeting businesses and individuals using the BMPE to launder drug funds, has arrested 23 subjects, seized $3,327,685, 19 kilos of cocaine and dismantled 1 money laundering organization while disrupting 8 during 2003. In another investigation, the same task force is targeting an importer/exporter who uses commercial shipments to conceal narcotics and launders narcotics funds through various businesses.

Another task force focusing on outbound movements of narcotics targeted a high level organization. The investigation has yielded the seizure of two large inbound shipments of heroin and cocaine concealed in cargo and large outbound shipments of cash concealed in cargo. During 2003 the task force seized $7 million in cash arrested 25 individuals, dismantled 3 organizations and disrupted three.

VIOLENT CRIME:

During 2003, overall violent crime rates for the South Florida HIDTA counties declined by approximately 3.6%. Although declining, the following rates per 100,000 population depict a serious problem for South Florida: homicides 338, robberies 14,165, assaults 27,318, rapes 1,923, and burglaries 52,404.

Despite declines in the crime index totals, violent crime continues to be a serious concern for the South Florida community.

Drug-related street level violence is common. The daily newspapers report shootings of innocent children who were in the wrong place at the wrong time when rival gang members confront each other over drug turf. Street-level armed robberies are the most commonly reported violent crime. Kidnappings occur every day by addicts robbing for money to purchase drugs. Drug owners who are robbed of their product and its profit buy murder contracts. Intimidation and retaliation are by-products of the drug trade; witnesses testifying at drug trials and their relatives are threatened and intimidated by violence.

In October 2002, Gang Strike Force investigators targeted the “Lincoln Fields Gangsters” and their associates to dismantle their drug distribution network operating in the North-Side District of Miami-Dade County. Over the next nine months, GSF investigators conducted numerous surveillances and identified 60 members of the gang and numerous associate members. Undercover detectives purchased cocaine and/or cannabis from “Lincoln Fields Gangsters” and their associates and made narcotics and firearms arrests on 48 occasions. GSF investigators were able to document the organization's use of specific types of packaging designed to build brand loyalty. The investigation revealed that the subjects and their associates were directly responsible for or associated with over 300 crimes in Miami-Dade County. Most had an extensive criminal history including homicides, shootings, robberies, and countless cocaine and cannabis sales. In May, one member was shot by another member over accounting discrepancies at one of the organizations drug holes.

On June 24, 2003 GSF prosecutors issued 33 warrants charging members and associates with drug trafficking and related crimes. To date, a total of 32 of the 33 gang members have been arrested.

Through this and several other significant investigations, GSF made 42 federal and 68 state arrests. They dismantled three violent drug trafficking organizations.

Operation STOP dismantled an operation supplying the AUC and FARC with numerous assault rifles. Records indicate approximately 600-700 weapons sold in the past. A shipment of 50 assault rifles was seized subsequent to two controlled deliveries to two sets of Colombian nationals. STOP also initiated Operation Destination Trinidad, targeting an organization funded by narcotics proceeds, trafficking assault rifles and silencers to an extremist terrorist organization, Jamat et Muslimen. During 2003 the investigation, which is still ongoing, resulted in federal prosecutions and seizure of assault type weapons. Significant home invasion groups were successfully targeted throughout 2003, resulting in the dismantling of a total of 8 organizations, disruption of 19 organizations, 91 arrests, and seizure of 179 weapons.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005