In addition to the accused kingpin of a drug trafficking operation in Summerfield, three other local men also were arrested recently by members of the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team.
The commander of the team, Capt. Robert Douglas, spoke a press conference Wednesday about the multiple arrests the team has made in the past several months after Marion County experienced an increase in drug overdoses.
Douglas, of the Ocala Police Department, said his team decided to go after the drug traffickers in the county and during a multitude of investigations, they seized more than 300 marijuana plants, an additional 300 pounds of marijuana packed for distribution, more than one kilogram of concentrated THC derivatives, one and a half kilos of cocaine, one kilo of heroin, 36 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, three kilograms of Fentanyl, 21 guns and more than $180,000 in cash.
Of the more than 80 arrests carried out by members of UDEST, four were in Summerfield, including 26-year-old Noah Steven Francis. Roberts labeled the arrest of Francis as among the most important his team made, largely because he allegedly was trafficking Fentanyl, an opioid used as a pain medication and recreational drug that’s frequently connected to overdoses.
“Fentanyl is an extremely lethal substance that’s being mixed with other drugs throughout our community right now,” Douglas said.
Francis was arrested Feb. 17 and charged with armed trafficking in Fentanyl (over 200 grams); armed trafficking in crystal methamphetamine (over 28 grams); possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; child neglect; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; possession of a structure for distribution of controlled substances; possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon; possession of drug paraphernalia and warrants for past charges of trafficking in cocaine (28 grams or more) and possession of cannabis with intent to sell, manufacture or distribute.
Three other Summerfield men were jailed during the UDEST raids. They include:
- 23-year-old Terry Dylan Swinehart, who was arrested Jan. 15 and charged with providing false identification to a law enforcement officer and violating probation for grand theft;
- 18-year-old David Smith III, who was arrested Feb. 13 and charged with possession of a firearm by an adjudicated juvenile delinquent, possession of ammunition by an adjudicated juvenile delinquent aggravated assault with a firearm, resisting an officer without violence, grand theft of a firearm, possession of marijuana less than 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia and warrants for past charges of domestic battery by strangulation, battery and criminal mischief ($200 or less subsequent offense); and
- 18-year-old Harvey Lee Little III, who was arrested Feb. 15 and charged with tampering with evidence and resisting without violence.
UDEST is an initiative of the North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. It is comprised of local, state and federal law enforcement from the Ocala Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Homeland Security.