ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando police say five Central Florida gang members have been arrested after a two-year-long investigation revealed they were responsible for nearly $2 million in thefts that spanned the entire state.
“Their MO was pretty much -- they would steal a car from here in Orlando, take it to another agency or jurisdiction, and they would hit a dealership,” Orlando Police Detective Mike Glatthorn said. “In a stolen car from Orlando, there would be four or five or six of them deep.”
Glatthorn said his team identified Jabari Davis, 19, Darrion Montgomery, 18, James Lodi, Jr., 18, Jaquez Smith, 21, Tyrone Rivers, 19, and Hollins Mills, 20, as the figure heads in the operation.
He said all five have been arrested except for Mills, who they are searching for right now.
According to court paperwork, Orlando police have connected him and other gang members to car thefts involving at least 25 law enforcement agencies across the state.
They said a picture on Mills’ Instagram account showed him standing next to one of three cars they said was stolen from a dealership in Merritt Island.
Detectives said another post shows him next to a white Chevrolet Camaro, which was one of four cars stolen from a dealership in Hillsborough County.
News 6 found out the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office helped locate Mills last year after investigators said he stole another car – a Ford Mustang – from a dealership in Palm Coast.
He was apprehended hiding in someone’s swimming pool in the DeLand area, but bonded out of jail 20 days later.
In all, Orlando police told News 6 Mills and the other five already in custody are responsible for nearly $2 million in stolen property, 59 stolen vehicles and 19 stolen firearms.
“The bullets that these fire -- why it’s such a concern to law enforcement -- will also penetrate our body armor,” Orlando Police Department Lt. Jonathan Bigelow said.
Bigelow said the department’s gang unit has confiscated 108 firearms so far this year.
Some of them were confiscated after a drive-by shooting near the soccer stadium.
Glatthorn said he and his partner were driving by when they heard the shots fired.
“I feel like (shootings) are escalating,” he said. “It’s getting to the point now where there’s so many people with so many guns illegally carrying because of either their age or their past history.”
Bigelow said some of the gang members his team has come in contact with are as young as 13 years old.
“These kids go to school. So, they’re going to go recruit more people, and say, ‘Hey, you want to hang with us? Look at us. We’re so cool.’ I just don’t see it being right,” he said.
According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, deputies have now made 150 arrests and seized more than 70 firearms.
In the meantime, Orlando police detectives are asking for the public’s help in tracking down Mills.
If you have any information, call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477 (TIPS).