Meth probe arrests continue

OKEECHOBEE — “Friday was a great success. No one was injured.”

And, continued Assistant State Attorney Ashley Albright, nearly everyone sought for selling and distributing methamphetamine in and around Okeechobee was arrested.

Mr. Albright indicated he has arrest warrants for seven more people who, along with the other 21, are charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering for their alleged involvement in the sale and distribution of meth.

Fifteen other people in Okeechobee, Glades, Highlands and Polk counties have been indicted by federal grand juries and are either under arrest or being sought by federal authorities.

The 18-month investigation culminated early Friday, Aug. 28, when 15 takedown teams comprised of both county, state and federal law enforcement personnel started knocking on doors at 4 a.m. Each team had eight members.

“I’ve been working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force since the beginning. We knew it was a big drug operation,” said the veteran prosecutor.

“Because it has been going on so long, we knew early on it would be a large group of people.”

Mr. Albright was on the job from 4 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. He, along with fellow prosecutors Terry Tribble and Don Richardson, rode with takedown teams then conducted interviews of those taken into custody.

“The team I was on, they (the suspects) all came out and opened the door,” said Mr. Albright.

Mr. Albright said the main cog in this meth distribution wheel is Steven Lee ‘Wildman’ Oakes, 59, of Davenport. He has yet to be apprehended.

“He would go get the meth, bring it to Okeechobee then distribute it,” explained the prosecutor. “This guy traveled to Lorida, to Okeechobee, to Glades County and to the (Brighton) Reservation. He was high up in the organization. We were able to show people getting it (meth) from Oakes and redistributing it.”

Local citizens indicted on federal distribution charges were: Daniel John Alsdorf, 58; Teresa Lee Green, 45; Felisha Michelle Leitner, 28; David Allen Sparks, 49; Jamie Lea Hewitt, 35; Jessica Marie Bell, 28; Vickie Lynn Johnson, 47; Travis Wayne Carr, 23; and, Timothy Dale Reid, 49.

Those arrested on federal charges will be prosecuted in federal court. The suspects arrested on state charges will be prosecuted in state court by Mr. Albright.
Nearly all of those arrested on state charges are still confined to the Okeechobee County Jail where they are being held on $75,000 bond each.

Mr. Albright furnished a list of those suspects and the reasons for their arrests.

• William Matthew Arrieta, 51, N.W. 176th Ave., Okeechobee: five transactions — totalling 13.25 grams. He is being held on bond. At the time of his arrest he was reportedly found to have 0.6 grams of meth on his person as well as 0.4 grams of marijuana. He was charged with possession of methamphetamine, a felony, and possession of marijuana under 20 grams, a misdemeanor. His bond on those charges has been set at $15,500.

• William Shane Brumley, 40, 196th Terrace, Okeechobee: seven transactions — totalling 17.5 grams. He is being held on bond.

• Cynthia Lynn Carr, 50, N.E. 304th St., Okeechobee: one known transaction — totaling 7 grams; assisted in brokering deals between Oakes and her son (Travis Wayne Carr); and, notified Oakes when she saw law enforcement activity. She is free on bond.

• Jennifer Ann Cosden, 41, S.W. Savage Ave., Palm City: two transactions — totaling 23.3 grams and assisted in brokering deals with others. She is being held on bond.

• Robert Fortier, 29, N.W. 366th Trail, Okeechobee: one transaction — 28 grams in meth and 100 xanax pills, and assisted when two Oakes distributors were pulled over by police. He advised Oakes of the occurrence immediately, picked them up from the hospital and helped to arrange their bail. He is being held on bond.

• Bobby Joe Fulford, 59, N.W. 80th Court, Okeechobee: four transactions — minimum of 18 grams; and, allowed another distributor to use his vehicle to make transactions. He is free on bond.

• Danielle Kay Harmon, 30, S.W. 28th St., Okeechobee: seven transactions — weight unknown; brokered deals between Oakes and other buyers and discussed rumors that a confidential informant bought drugs from Oakes and assures him she didn’t buy from him. She is being held on bond.

• Todd Mitchell Hawes, 35, Broadland Lane, Okeechobee: 18 transactions — minimum of 37.75 grams; amount and time between purchases indicates redistribution. He is being held on bond.

• Lance Curtis Heaberlin, 44, Barber Road, St. Cloud: six purchases — 16 grams; brokered a deal for Oakes to purchase 100 xanax pills to resell at a profit; and, brokered deals for others to buy meth from Oakes. He is being held on bond.

• LaDonna Marie Hopewell, 27, N.W. Fifth St., Okeechobee: seven purchases — unknown weights; advised Oakes a confidential informant bought drugs from him and named that informant; traveled with Oakes on occasion, answered his phone, brokered deals and kept the owed ledger. She is being held on bond.

• Dwayne Charles Ingalls, 34, Click Drive, Moore Haven: three transactions — one for 1.75 grams, other amounts unknown; assisted in brokering deals between Oakes and others. He is being held on bond.

• John Edward Julian, 41, Reservation Road, Okeechobee: nine transactions — unknown weights; associated with other distributors. He is free on bond.

• Thomas Lowe, 31, address unknown: 15 transactions — 20.4 grams known, seven amounts unknown; he discussed how much he has distributed and how much more he needs. He is being held on bond.

• Clayton Paul McIntyre, 31, N.W. 80th Ave., Okeechobee: eight transactions — 19.25 grams known; assisted in brokering deals between Oakes and others. He is being held on bond.

• Andrea Michelle Prewitt, 47, S.E. Seventh St., Okeechobee: 11 transactions — 24.5 grams; discussed and advised Oakes regarding people who were stopped or arrested after buying from him. She is being held on bond.

• Herbert Christopher Rivers, 49, Pylent Drive, Lakeport: eight transactions — 12 ounces from first purchase, remaining amounts unknown; he appears to be a major redistributor in Glades County. He is free on bond.

• Ramon Rivero, 43, N.E. 93rd Court, Okeechobee: four transaction — 17.5 grams. He is being held on bond.

• Jessica Lee Rutherford, 31, N.E. 301st Blvd., Okeechobee: five transactions — 43.75 grams; assisted in brokering deals for others. She is being held on bond.

• Michael Ellis Smith, 50, N.W. 38th Ave., Okeechobee: nine transactions — 3.5 grams from one purchase, remaining amounts unknown. He is being held on bond.

• Daniel Lamar Tindall, 34, N.W. Sixth St., Okeechobee: three purchases — unknown weights; evidence he is redistributing. He is being held on bond.

• Aubrey Lynn Waldron, 33, N.W. 82nd Court, Okeechobee: one transaction — 3.5 grams; brokered deals between Oakes and others. She is being held on bond.

Mr. Albright said a large number of the buys were done while under surveillance, and were made by the DEA and local task force detectives.

While takedown teams were only armed with arrest warrants, Mr. Albright said “If they (suspects) had something or we saw something, we could seize it.”

If convicted, Mr. Albright said those arrested on the state charges could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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