Sheriff: 41 charged in takedown of Florida gang leadership
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff said Wednesday that 41 people have been charged with dozens of crimes in an effort to take down the leadership of a notoriously violent group called the Sex Money Murder gang.
The yearlong investigation involved law enforcement agencies across Florida, the Department of Corrections and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference. It involved wiretaps and social media monitoring as well as keeping tabs on gang members directing operations from prison.
“The goal is to dismantle the hierarchy,” Judd said. “We have just begun to arrest gangsters in this investigation.”
State Attorney General Ashley Moody, who attended the press conference, said the Sex Money Murder gang was exceedingly dangerous, committing murders, intimidating witnesses, selling drugs and possessing weapons including assault-style rifles.
“Evil lurks in our communities. There is no doubt about that,” Moody said. “Evil must be contained.”
Judd said there are 121 felony charges so far against the alleged gang members. Those include racketeering, drug sales, robberies, smuggling of contraband into prisons, murder conspiracy and other charges. Some charges could result in life prison sentences.
More than $1.5 million in illicit drugs was also seized, including methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, mushrooms, oxycodone and, most deadly of all, fentanyl. Eighteen guns and more than $17,000 in currency was also confiscated.
“Gang members, listen up: We can intercept your social media,” Judd said. “Our goal is that they never breathe air outside a prison again.”