Undercover Investigation Leads to Multiple Gun and Drug Charges

By: U.S. DOJ Press Release; Julie Montanaro Email
By: U.S. DOJ Press Release; Julie Montanaro Email

Tallahassee, FL -- December 9, 2011 - Noon -

A crackdown on a drug trade in a Tallahassee neighborhood has netted more than a dozen arrests for drugs, guns and more.

The feds yesterday described the corridor along Alabama Street as one of the city's worst open-air drug markets.

The US Attorney announced Thursday that ten people had been indicted of federal drug and weapon charges and four more were looking at charges in state court. We've knocked on many doors this morning. We spoke with a couple who has lived here for more than 40 years. They are relieved and say the increased police presence in their neighborhood has made a difference. We spoke with another young man, however he says he doesn't think this crackdown will make a difference at all and soon as things calm down, there will be another drug dealer stepping up to take the place of those who were arrested.

There is a sense of fear out here. A lot of folks say they simply don't go out after dark and don't let their children out either. Time will tell if this crackdown will make a lasting change in the Alabama Street corridor.


Tallahassee, FL -- December 8, 2011 --

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, the State Attorney’s Office, and multiple law enforcement agencies announced eight federal indictments were unsealed today in federal court, charging ten separate defendants with federal firearm and narcotics violations. Four additional defendants were arrested by state authorities on charges related to armed robbery, illegal firearm possession, and drug distribution. The federal and state charges follow a six-month undercover investigation targeting open-air drug distribution along Tallahassee’s Alabama Street corridor referred to as “Operation See Change.”

The United States Attorney’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement initiated “Operation See Change” in July 2011.

“It is our mission to ensure that the residents of Alabama Street feel safe in their own neighborhood, and today we have taken the first steps,” said U.S. Attorney Pamela C. Marsh. “We will not rest until we rid Tallahassee neighborhoods of this criminal element. I am also proud of our federal, state and local partners for their tireless efforts in helping to make this operation a success. There is nothing more important than giving these community members the peace of mind they deserve.”

Relying on current crime data and statistics, “Operation See Change” focused on the city’s worst open-air drug market. Working undercover, detectives from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the Tallahassee Police Department made strong cases against drug dealers – many of whom had long criminal histories of violence. These violent dealers were arrested this morning and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“It’s a crying shame that our residents have to lock their doors and windows to stay safe,” said State Attorney Willie Meggs. “It is time to take the bars off our windows and put the criminals behind them. I applaud all our law enforcement partners for their hard work in keeping our communities safe.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office called on the neighborhoods surrounding the Alabama Street corridor and numerous community service organizations, asking for help in sustaining these efforts to rid the neighborhood of the open-air drug dealing and keeping this community safe. Several individuals, who were documented as involved in certain criminal dealings, will be offered opportunities to work with these community organizations, get involved in productive activities, and change their lifestyles. U.S. Attorney Marsh emphasized that this second chance should not be considered immunity: “These individuals will get a second chance, supported and watched by the community and law enforcement, but if they squander this opportunity to change their lifestyles, they will not be offered a third chance.” She also added, “Whether these drug market participants take responsibility or not, the drug market along the Alabama Street corridor is closed, for good.”

"The success of Operation See Change is the result of continued interagency cooperation at the federal, state and local levels," said Ralph P. Martinez, Resident Agent in Charge, ATF Tallahassee Field Office. "Collectively removing violent individuals who prey on citizens and destroy families with their illicit trade, not only makes our neighbourhoods safe – it makes the larger community safer, as well."

"The combination of drugs and violence can destroy communities such as those in Tallahassee's Alabama Street corridor,” said Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division. “Operation See Change brought together the DEA with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to take these drug dealers off the streets and put them in jail."

The goal of the operation was to return the neighborhoods along the Alabama Street corridor back to the residents and property owners.

“This operation exemplifies the dedication that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies participate in and we are proud to serve our community in this way,” said Sheriff Larry Campbell.

There remains a great deal of work to do. Removing the worst-of-the-worst will allow law enforcement to shut this drug market down for good, while also making Griffin Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods a safe, positive place to live and grow up. However, the success of this operation is incumbent upon the support of the whole community.

"We are proud to be working in conjunction with our law enforcement partners to remove these dangerous criminals from our neighborhoods,” said Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones. “I applaud the efforts of all those involved in the operation and thank the community for its help.”

Following numerous arrests this morning, initial appearances for many of the federally indicted defendants will be held in United States District Court, Tallahassee, Florida, on December 9, 2011.

"This collaborative effort demonstrates the commitment of our law enforcement agencies to keeping our streets safe," said Commissioner Gerald Bailey. "Today's announcement is a testament to the teamwork demonstrated by all involved."

U.S. Attorney Marsh emphasized that an indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason R. Coody is prosecuting the federal cases for the United States.

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  • by Mr.E Location: Tallahassee on Dec 11, 2011 at 02:19 PM
    Want to crush the cartels and gangs? Legalize Cannabis!
  • by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:26 AM
    @Todd C. -- Dude, it was better when it was ALL legal -- like when Teddy Roosevelt was President, and Sears Roebuck sold cocaine and opium mail order. THERE WERE NO DRUG GANGS BACK THEN. THINK ABOUT THAT. AND PLEASE WAKE THE HECK UP, WILL YA?!
  • by Surly on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:19 AM
    Aren't we lucky that drugs are banned? Instead of obedient albeit stupid addicts lined up at the gov't pharmacy on Monday mornings, we have "open-air" distribution centers, heroic cops, black-market violence, drug gangs, drug-related property crimes, murdered informants, drug-driven prostitution and best of all!!! -- NO MORE nasty Bill of Rights! It will be like the American Revolution never happened! O happy day! I so HATE being free, don't you?
  • by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:04 AM
    @Kyle -- More on this: the nafta-derived agreement to let Mexican trucks roll unrestricted on American roads was held up for years and years -- "coincidentally" that agreement was finalized immediately after a serious crackdown was begun on the notorious "pillmills" in florida. Wonder where all those oxy/vicodin pillheads will be turning to get their fix now that the pillmills are closed? Will they graduate to Mexican heroin? Message to American voters -- nationalize the illegal drug business, or die a slave. Your choice -- but you better hurry, or you will wake up too late...
  • by Gavin Location: Australia on Dec 11, 2011 at 03:38 AM
    Through most of the English-speaking world, legislation backing the "war on drugs" purports to reverse the onus of proof in drug-possession trials. That reversal is incompatible with the rule of law and is therefore unconstitutional in ALL jurisdictions. More: http://is.gd/noreverse .
  • by malcolmkyle Location: New York on Dec 10, 2011 at 10:33 AM
    Are you an international criminal? And are you wondering if it's wise to maintain your affiliation to any one of the estimated sixteen currently-active Mexican Drug Cartels? Maybe you should consider the following information very carefully: As a gesture of good will vis-a-vis cross-border relations, key members of the American Federal Government have recently pledged a solemn oath, declaring their commitment to encouraging people like yourself to increase performance and productivity. In particular, the United States Department of Justice will guarantee that you achieve a respectable level of technology in both military grade weapons and equipment while actively facilitating the laundering of that swirling cascade of cash that a business like yours invariably and continually generates.
  • by Todd C. Location: Tallahassee on Dec 10, 2011 at 01:18 AM
    The best part of this is, well the worst for those of us as Tallahassee citizens, the operation was spearheaded by FDLE Special Agents and DEA. Not TPD. Makes you wonder what our local police are doing. Crime is rising, drugs and thugs running around, and TPD special investigations unit is busy playing around at the office with nerf guns and playing on the web. Thank GOD for FDLE, DEA, and US DOJ. At least they like to work.
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on Dec 9, 2011 at 06:40 PM
    Well some of those who are on the streets are not ALL bad and thugs because i reside on them D streets but i am not up for you people trying to give these children gun time especially when your sweeping up everyone just make sure you people throw a job after it cause when they return they know no other way to support their families.true enough the narcotics dealing is out of control but its sum i know that are just trying to make it.you'll living good yall didnt make an bad choice that affected your whole life style so be mindful of how you pin point them from just looking from the outside in and you guys are doing swell keep it up it'll be quiet tonite on dent st..@YAya im sorry bout your friend but let them do they job they dont need all that extra dramaticness cause they have so many drugs why they all live in that one house and dirty house so shutup yo friend prolly was down there on them drugs you'll never know the world goin in nowadays...
  • by x-drug agent Location: usa on Dec 9, 2011 at 04:25 PM
    are we winning this drug war or what?
  • by d Location: basin street on Dec 9, 2011 at 02:38 PM
    i just wonder why it took the "new development" on basin street for them to do something. what? was they worried the "area" would make the property value drop even lower? or people would be scared to move on this side? oh wait, how convient we will release this story to make it look like we cleaning up on basin street just in time for the january openning of the "new development" on basin street. typical white folks using us again. attention all blind unaware brothers FSU MOVING IN SO THAT MEAN YALL GOTTA GO. YAAAAAYYY!!! IT'S ABOUT TIME but still sad it took new development for them to do something!! why haven't there been any comments on that.
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