Drug Trafficking Organization Dismantled: Several years ago, the Tampa Police Department—in an effort to get a handle on the growing, mostly opioid-fueled violence it was seeing on its streets—began a focused effort to crack down on the gangs believed to be involved in dealing heroin.
By October 2015, the Tampa Police Department had joined forces with the FBI’s Tampa Field Office on the Bureau’s Tampa Bay Safe Streets Task Force to widen the scope of the investigation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement played a critical role as well. The partners began looking past the lower-level street dealers to get a more complete picture of where the drugs were actually coming from and who was responsible for them.
And after a year and a half of joint local, state, and federal investigative activity—during which time the case had further morphed into an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, with the additional federal partners that designation brings—a total of 16 subjects were indicted in March 2017 for their roles in a significant drug trafficking conspiracy. All 16 have since pleaded guilty, including Felix Mejia Lagunas, the leader of the conspiracy who oversaw—from his California home—the importation of heroin from Mexico into the United States and ultimately into Florida and the Tampa Bay area.
According to FBI Tampa case agent Antonio Vargas, a member of the Safe Streets Task Force, the early part of the investigation used confidential informants along with undercover personnel making drug buys. Read more