24 suspects charged in cocaine, heroin trafficking bust

MBI targets drug trafficking organizations in Central Florida

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A year-long investigation into two cocaine and heroin trafficking organizations in Central Florida has led to charges against 24 suspects, according to the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation.

The two dozen suspects face charges, including racketeering, trafficking in heroin, trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to commit armed kidnapping, weapons charges and engaging in unlawful financial transactions.

MBI director Ron Stucker said the investigation began after authorities received a tip that Miguel Mercado, 45, was importing heroin and cocaine into east Orange County from Puerto Rico, then distributing them through two separate groups.

Stucker said the group used the USPS or private shipping companies to transport the drugs from the island to the mainland U.S.

At their peak, these groups were bringing about 1,000 baggies of heroin and 500 baggies of cocaine to Orange County each week, law enforcement officials said. An uncut kilo of cocaine is worth $30,000 and the same amount of heroin is worth $60,000.

Officials said they also know that the suspects were using a car sales lot as a front for their drug dealing endeavors. The location at 308 North Goldenrod Road would be used to divide drugs for street sales and vehicles at the location would be used to transport them or as payment for the narcotics, according to authorities.

“Everything that we’ve identified is that it was operating illegally as a front,” Stucker said.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the arrest resulting from Operation Night Watch are just part of the region's effort to crack down on drug dealing.

He said there have been 1,000 overdoses in Orange County this year as of November, 69 of which were fatal. He added that many of those overdoses were in east Orange County, where the two groups were operating, and many of them involved heroin.

“In Orange County, we have mitigated the (opioid) epidemic by taking a proactive and multidisciplinary approach,” Demings said.

Orlando police Chief John Mina agreed, calling the suspects in this operation "some of the worst of the worst in the community."

“We will stop at nothing to defeat this crisis, this opioid crisis, that we are facing. Investigations like these, arrests like these, save lives in this community,” Mina said.

Aside from the drugs, authorities said the individuals targeted in the investigation were violent offenders with stolen guns, including high-powered rifles in their possession. Information gathered during the investigation allowed authorities to stop two apartment complex shootings and a kidnapping that the suspects had planned, Stucker said.

Officials discussed the arrests at a news conference Thursday afternoon. They said most of the arrests were made in the past two weeks, although a few suspects are not yet in custody.

Below is a list of suspects and the charges they face: 

Pascual Jimenez, 42, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to traffic cocaine, engaging in unlawful financial transactions, conspiracy to traffic heroin, trafficking heroin, conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bond is set at $40,500.

Miguel Mercado, 45, is charged with trafficking in heroin, racketeering, conspiracy to traffic heroin, conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin, conspiracy to commit armed kidnapping, conspiracy to commit racketeering, engaging in unlawful financial transactions and other charges.

Angel Davila, 50, is charged with possession of heroin and cocaine with an intent to sell and deliver, racketeering and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

John Baggett, 35, is charged with conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin and cocaine and the unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bond is set at $40,500.

Waleska Vazquez, 41, was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to sell, deliver and traffic heroin, racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, possession of a place or structure for trafficking and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. 

Malvin Cruz, 41, was charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine, racketeering, armed trafficking in cocaine, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bond is set at $780,500.

Jerry Sanchez, 46, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin and cocaine and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bond is set at $395,000. 

David Gascot-Lugo, 38, is accused of trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence.

Manuel Angel Calderon, 52, is charged with trafficking in 400 grams or more of cocaine.

Luis Gabriel Burgos-Rosado, 34, is accused of trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Juan Ramon Melendez-Marquez, 43, is charged with trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.

Omayra Rivera-Ocasio, 42, is charged with trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.

Miguel Angel Valentin, 42, is accused of trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.

Erika Enid Negron-Rivera, 39, faces charges of trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence.

Jose Angel Negron-Ramon, 22, is accused of conspiracy to traffic in heroin and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Ismael Laboy-Cruz, 46, is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, three counts of conspiracy to sell or deliver cocaine, three counts of conspiracy to sell or deliver heroin and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Edwin Joel Moux-Hoyos, 23, is accused of conspiracy to traffic in heroin and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Harol Leroe Rivera-Rivera, 20, is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, conspiracy to sell or deliver cocaine, trafficking in heroin, conspiracy to commit armed kidnapping and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Hendrick Rivera, 30, is accused of conspiracy to traffic in heroin and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Diones Alberto Castillo, 50, is facing charges of conspiracy to traffic in heroin, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, racketeering, conspiracy to sell or deliver cocaine and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Waleska Godinez, 39, is accused of conspiracy to sell or deliver cocaine,  conspiracy to sell or deliver heroin, conspiracy to commit racketeering, possession of a place or structure used for sale or manufacture of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Carlos Perez-Reyes is charged with trafficking in heroin, armed possession of heroin and possession of heroin with intent to sell or deliver.

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