Major Drug Bust in Bay County

by Karen Custer

BAY COUNTY, FL - Sheriff Tommy Ford announced the results of a six-month long investigation into a fentanyl drug trafficking organization that was operating in Bay County, which culminated with a search warrant being served by the Special Investigations Division (SID), at 112 Marin Lake Drive in Springfield, Florida, with four arrests.

The organization tried to set up operations in Bay County, but the Sheriff Department’s team was on top of it, working for about six months and resulting in the seizure of a record amount of 7.3 pounds of fentanyl, 7.8 ounces of Methamphetamine, 6 pounds of a Synthetic Drug known as “tunechi, and a couple hundred pre-packaged, multi-flavored “Dessertz” which contain marijuana edible “gateway drugs” that looked like they would be enticing to children. Sheriff Ford stated, “Say what you want to about it, but I've been doing this for 30 years, and that is many times a gateway drug, leading to the other drugs that were found.” Generally, a 2 mg to 3 mg dose of fentanyl can be fatal so a seizure of 7.3 pounds (over 3,300,000 mg) of fentanyl could be over a million doses with a street value of around $1.3 million.

The fentanyl trafficking organizations operate much like the groups did during the crack cocaine epidemic back in the in the late 1980’s, where you had the Miami boys come and set up shop in different communities throughout the state. Sheriff Ford said, “Make no mistake, we know where every bit of this came into the United States and that was at the southern border. Every time I talk about this, I get angry because the federal government is completely abdicating their responsibility to secure the southern border, and this is coming across and being distributed in our community, killing people every day.”

In 2021, 20 people died from fentanyl overdoses in Bay County's unincorporated area, with every case treated as a homicide. The number was reduced by 65% last year, but Sheriff Ford finds it still unsatisfactory. By removing drugs from the streets, making 14 manslaughter arrests in the last two years, and holding people accountable, progress has been made. Elias Barela, Tyree Jones, and Angel Godinez were arrested for Trafficking in Fentanyl, facing a 25-year minimum mandatory sentence, and potential federal prosecution.

Sheriff Ford hopes to send a strong message to anybody that is selling drugs, that if it results in the death of someone, “they will come after you, treat you like the homicide suspect that you are, and arrest you for homicide, where you'll serve significant time in prison.”