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Arrests made in synthetic drug ring operation in Volusia County, Florida

6:41 PM, May 30, 2013   |    comments
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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. -- Synthetic drugs such as K-2 and bath salts have found their way onto the shelves at gas stations, convenience stores and smoke shops around the country, according to a Volusia County Sheriff's Office news release.

Many of the large quantities of the substances were coming from Volusia County through an illegal distribution ring based out of New Smyrna Beach.

On Thursday, narcotics agents dismantled the organization in a series of raids that was a culmination of a seven-month investigation, which led to 14 arrests.

The investigation, named Operation Tinker Bell, was launched in November by the Volusia Bureau of Investigation and was assisted by the State's Attorney Office, the release detailed.

Through a variety of undercover investigative tactics, agents infiltrated the organization and learned that it was importing synthetic drugs from China and Canada. They were then being distributed around the United States, the release details.

In some cases, the suspects bought the finished drugs through wholesalers and then re-sold the products at a mark-up. In other cases, they bought the chemical components and actually manufactured the synthetic drugs locally before shipping them off to buyers.

The release detailed that the group distributed multiple kilos of finished product on a weekly basis. With the synthetic drugs packaged for retail sales, the organization generated profits of several hundred thousand dollars in the past few months.

Several businesses in the area have been linked to the operation, including LAD Enterprises in New Smyrna Beach. It was one of several business raided Thursday by VBI agents armed with court-issued search warrants. Others include a Texaco station in Ormond Beach and a bath salt distribution center operating out of two units in an industrial park in Edgewater.

Prior to Thursday's raids, agents had already seized approximately 6,700 grams of synthetic drugs during the investigation -- including a substance called Star Dust.

By the end of the day Thursday, agents had seized another 50 pounds of drugs and approximately $80,000 in cash from the organization. Thursday's raids came four months after the Sheriff's Office organized inspections of more than 170 businesses around the county to ensure that they weren't selling any synthetic drugs banned by the state.

"Let's hope that the people out there seeing this will realize we're coming after you," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said in unveiling the results of the operation during a news conference Thursday afternoon. "If you want to continue to sell these illicit drugs, we are going to come after you."

State Attorney R.J. Larizza added that he was troubled by the availability of synthetic drugs, saying parents have no idea that when they send their child to the store, they could leave with something so potent that it could have deadly consequences.

Fortunately, he said, Operation Tinker Bell closed down a major pipeline. "With the caliber of folks we've got, with the technology we've got, Internet and otherwise, we're able to do something about it," said Larizza. "And quite frankly, I'm proud to be a part of it."

Johnson said the operation should send a clear message to others who might try to get into the same business.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined Thursday's news conference to add her words of praise for the successful operation. She called the busts one of the largest of its kind in the state.

"Shame on the businesses who are selling this junk to our kids," said Bondi.

Thursday's arrests included 55-year-old Loraine Kennelly, co-owner of LAD Enterprises and the person who investigators consider to be the organization's ringleader. Several of her employees also were arrested on Thursday along with her husband and sister-in-law.

The names of the suspects and their charges are as follows:

Nabil Alnazir Ahmed, 22, charged with three counts of sale of a Schedule I substance, $75,000 bond.

Libo C. Anderson, 44, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, $10,000 bond.

Holden A. Bownds, 22, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, $10,000 bond.

Roger Allen Brummitt, 30, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, $10,000 bond.

Jennifer Lynn Hutchens, 29, charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to deliver pentedrone, two counts of sale of a controlled substance, unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia, $26,000 bond.

Rangarao Juvvadi, 39, charged with Sale of a Schedule I substance, $25,000 bond.

Christine Kennelly, 43, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, solicitation to deliver pentedrone and unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, $12,000 bond.

Loraine Fox Kennelly, 55, charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, possession of a structure used for the manufacture or sale of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, sale of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, $26,500 bond.

Michael James Kennelly, 49, charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, possession of a structure used for the manufacture or sale of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, sale of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia, possession of a conveyance used for the sale of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, $27,500 bond.

Sean Nicholas Main, 32, charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to deliver pentedrone and unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, $22,000 bond.

Andrew James Mundell, 23charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, possession of methylenedioxymethcathinone, delivery of methylenedioxymethcathinone, conspiracy to purchase pentedrone, conspiracy to deliver pentedrone and unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, $25,000 bond.

Daniel J. Orr, 43, charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, possession of a structure used for the manufacture or sale of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, sale of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver drug paraphernalia, unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, $26,500 bond.

Saman Kantha Elgodage Ranawaka, 48, charged with two counts of sale of a Schedule I substance, $50,000 bond.

Christopher Richard Russell, 40, charged with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, solicitation to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a crime, $4,000 bond.

First Coast News

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