The administrative offices of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office will be closed on Monday, September 7, 2015, in observance of Labor Day.
Have a safe and happy Labor Day.
Remember Don't Drink and Drive!
35 charged in meth bust: 20 involved in drug ring face RICO charge
OKEECHOBEE — Fifteen people, including nine Okeechobee residents, were arrested Friday on federal indictments for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
As many as 29 more arrests on state charges were expected Friday. Those suspects were either arrested or are being sought on state attorney warrants. Each of those individuals was charged with one count of violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), said Assistant State Attorney Ashley Albright who will be prosecuting those cases.
The 18-month operation was centered on Okeechobee, but also included Glades, Highlands and Polk counties.
According to Major Noel Stephen, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), the bulk of those arrested are from Okeechobee County. But, he added arrests were also made in Glades, Highlands and Polk counties.
“A lot of our meth is coming from Mexico to Polk County and is then being distributed here,” offered the major. “The meth is 90 to 95 percent pure.”
He went on to say 18 pounds of meth, worth an estimated $800,000, was collected during this investigation.
Chief of Police Denny Davis said, without question, the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force — made up of personnel from the OCSO as well as the Okeechobee City Police Department — deserves recognition for their work in this probe.
“The narcotics task force worked tirelessly on this investigation and spent hours upon hours putting this together,” he said. “They did an exceptional job.”
Maj. Stephen agreed by saying “I am extremely proud of the task force and the job they do to clean up our community.”
The takedowns started at 4 a.m. Friday and were carried out simultaneously in the four counties.
Arrested locally on federal distribution charges were: Daniel John Alsdorf, 58; Teresa Lee Green, 45; Felisha Michelle Leitner, 28; David Allen Sparks, 49; Jamie Lea Hewitt, 35; Jessica Marie Bell, 28; Vickie Lynn Johnson, 47; Travis Wayne Carr, 23; and Timothy Dale Reid, 49.
Also arrested by federal authorities were: Steven Lee Oakes, 59, of Davenport; Jetta Lyn Frake, 45, of Lorida; Lacy Junior Locklear, 47, of Davenport; Stephen Patrick Hall, Jr., 35, of Dundee; James Ledger ‘Buddy’ Carter, 61, of Lakeport; and Tanner Lyn Carter, 22, of Lakeport.
Oakes, said Maj. Stephen, was the main cog in the meth wheel.
Even though Oakes is from Davenport, Sheriff Paul May said he “spends a large, large amount of time in Okeechobee.”
A press release from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, stated that all of the 15 defendants “… conspired to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine from as early as July 2014 and continuing to and including Aug. 6, 2015, in Okeechobee and Highlands counties.”
In addition to the conspiracy charge, a number of defendants were also indicted for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in various amounts up to 50 grams or more.
• Alsdorf is charged with possession to distribute 5 grams or more of meth on April 28, 2015.
• Green is charged with possession to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of meth on March 10, 2015.
• Johnson is charged with possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of meth on March 31, 2015.
OCSO records show Johnson was arrested July 19, 2015, on a felony charge of possession of methamphetamine. She was arrested again Aug. 16 on one felony count of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling.
Those arrested on state charges were: Herbert Rivers, William Brumley, Andrea Prewitt, Clayton McIntyre, Ladonna Hopewell, Thomas Lowe, Herman Sutton, Daniel Lamar Tindall, William Arrieta, Danielle Harmon, Jennifer Cosden, Lance Heaberlin, Ramon Rivero, Jessica Rutherford, Aubrey Waldron, Cynthia Carr, Robert Fortier, Bobby Fulford, Dwayne Ingalls and Clayton McIntyre.
A number of suspects are still being sought, offered Mr. Albright.
Although not all of these people are local, Sheriff May said “90 percent of them are from Okeechobee.”
The federal indictment will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney L. Coker and Special Assistant United States Attorney Ryan L. Butler.
In a prepared statement, Mr. Albright said he has reviewed the 35 cases submitted to him and has direct-filed one state count each of conspiracy to commit racketeering on 29 separate individuals.
“Each of these individuals were shown to have been a part of, and contributed to, the criminal enterprise headed by Oakes,” he said. “Each of them redistributed, assisted in redistribution or otherwise assisted and contributed to the criminal organization.”
As many as 15 SWAT teams from various law enforcement agencies took part in Friday’s execution of the arrest warrants. Those agencies were: OCSO; the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force; Okeechobee City Police Department; Glades County Sheriff’s Office; Highlands County Sheriff’s Office; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE); St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office; Fort Pierce Police Department; Fort Pierce Offices of the United States Marshals Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HIS); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Port St. Lucie Police Department; Martin County Sheriff’s Office; United States Border Patrol; and, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.
Maj. Stephen said the defendants are now going to pay for their crimes and the lives they have ruined.
“I’ve always heard if you’re going to dance you’d better be prepared to pay the fiddler.
Well, a lot of people have been dancing in the drug trade in Okeechobee County. Today, the fiddler was paid,” he said.
The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office received a donation of $1000 from the Cypress Hut Eagles #4509. The donation was designated to be used for the Animal Control office.
Undersheriff Noel Stephen stated, “We always appreciate receiving support from our Community. This group of folks goes above and beyond by supporting all the Sheriff’s Office efforts even monetarily. For that we are forever grateful! These dollars will be put to good use as your Sheriff’s Office strives to assist the County in an efficient and effective Animal Control Department.”
(Pictured are Sheriff Paul C. May, Secretary Bill Houston, President Jim Conroy and Undersheriff Noel Stephen)
Thank you Eagles!
Four Animals Saved from Structure Fire
At 1721 hours on 08/12/15, units from Okeechobee County Fire Rescue responded to a reported structure frre at 4940 SE Highway 441. The frrst unit arrived within three minutes and found a single wide mobile home with flames coming from the windows of one bedroom and smoke coming from the entire building.
Firefighters entered the structure and began an aggressive interior attack on the fire. The fire was declared out within 10 minutes of arrival. During the attack on the frre, the resident also advised that there were three cats and one dog still in the home.
Firefighters using a Thermal Imaging Camera that identifies the difference in temperature patterns were able to locate all four pets and remove them from the structure. Although the animals were initially disorientated, firefighters and deputies outside the structure were able to care for the animals by administering oxygen. After receiving care, the animals appeared to be in good shape and were returned to their owner. Inthe photo Left to Right, County Firefighters Borgstrom and Bridges along with Okeechobee County Sheriff's Deputy Crawford attend to the animals.
The State Fire Marshal's office was called to investigate the cause of the fire and determined the fire to have started due to unattended smoking material in the room of origin. Red Cross was also contacted to assist the resident.
A total of 8 fire personnel responded to the scene which included an Engine, Rescue, Chief Officer, and Safety Officer from Okeechobee County, and an Engine from the City for Okeechobee. Assistance was also received from the Sheriff's Office.
Okeechobee County Fire Rescue Chief Ralph Franklin states that according to the United States Fire Administration, smoking is the number one cause of home frre deaths across the country. He reminds everyone to extinguish smoking materials in an ashtray with a wide base so they won't tip over and start a fire.
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS RECEIVES UNIT CITATION
SRO Sgt. Mark Roberts - 25 Years of Service