Police: Tampa-Based Heroin Trafficking Group Busted
TAMPA - Investigators have broken up a Tampa-based drug trafficking organization responsible for the sale of up to 17.5 ounces of heroin a week, Tampa police say. Thirteen arrests came through an investigation dubbed Operation Smackdown. "This operation dismantled one of the more significant heroin trafficking groups in the Bay area," Tampa Police Department Lt. Kenny Morman says in a written statement. Morman said the organization's members were "serious players who committed serious crimes." Police say the local supplier was Juan "Casper" Martir, 41, of Orlando, who got the drugs from a Miami-based source. The Tampa-based distributors were led by Benigno Borges Sr., 41; Benigno Borges Jr., 23; Raul Agosto-Ortiz, 33; and Josue Joel Martir, 20.The other people arrested were couriers or midlevel traffickers for the group, police say. From September through November, detectives used electronic surveillance and participated in drug buys to identify the group's hierarchy and activities. Officers seized 14 vehicles, about $60,000, almost 7 ounces of heroin, five firearms and about 1 ounce of cocaine. The case was investigated through a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force initiative. That task force included Tampa police, Hillsborough County deputies and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Juan Martir was arrested Monday in Orange County and charged with trafficking heroin, conspiracy to traffic heroin, racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. He remains in Orient Road Jail. No bail has been set. Borges Sr. was arrested Nov. 25 and charged with trafficking illegal drugs, conspiracy to traffic illegal drugs, conspiracy to commit racketeering and managing a continuing criminal enterprise. He remains in Falkenburg Road Jail. His bail was set at $1.55 million, but a hold has been placed on him. Borges Jr. was arrested Nov. 25 and charged with two counts of trafficking heroin and one count each of conspiracy to traffic heroin, racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. He remains in Falkenburg Road Jail. His bail was set at $2.05 million, but a hold has been placed on him. Agosto-Ortiz was arrested Nov. 24 and charged with racketeering, trafficking drugs, conspiracy to traffic heroin and organized fraud involving less than $20,000. He remains in Falkenburg Road Jail. His bail was set at $200,000. Josue Martir was arrested Nov. 24 and charged with two counts of trafficking heroin and conspiracy to traffic heroin and one count each of trafficking cocaine, conspiracy to traffic cocaine, racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. He remains in Orient Road Jail. His bail was set at $2.2 million, but a hold has been placed on him. Others arrested: Carlos Manuel Diaz-Cruz, 20, no address; Angel Rafael Vega, 35, of Deltona; Ronald Martinez, 33, of Deltona; Francisco Javier Rodriguez, 27, of Tampa; Angel Quetglas, 42, of Tampa; Luis Cordova-Munoz, 49, of Tampa; Edwin Burgos, 33, of Tampa; and Edgar Velez, 49, of Tampa.
Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 259-7691.