Eight people have been arrested in connection to a criminal enterprise based in St. Lucie County with a network stretching from Tampa to the Florida Keys.
According to the investigation by Attorney General Pam Bondi's Office of Statewide Prosecution and the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, the defendants are accused of trafficking cocaine, dealing in stolen property, insurance fraud and extortion.
It is alleged that the group of eight used false claims to defraud insurance companies and provided loans to to people who the defendants then extorted using threats of violence.
"This criminal enterprise put Floridians statewide in danger, by not only stealing and channeling drugs throughout our state, but also, extorting and intimidating innocent Floridians to advance their scheme,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Thanks to local, state and federal law enforcement partnership, this enterprise has been shutdown and these individuals are incarcerated.”
The defendants are identified as:
- Henry Blanco-Avila, 45, Seminole
- Ivan Blanco-Avila, 40, Port Saint Lucie
- Richard Henry Byrd, 46, Palm City
- Melissa Garcia, 41, Miami
- Silvia Garcia, 60, Miami
- Rolando Garcia Garmedia, 44, Miami
- Newman Marquez, 23, Miami
- Rolando Tranquilino Garcia Ruiz, 67, Miami
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara said, "Due to the strong and collaborative partnerships between our agency and the others included in this investigation, a significant criminal enterprise has been stopped, several unsolved grand theft cases have been solved and a pipeline for drugs and other criminal activities have been terminated."