34 face charges following 9-month investigation into Orange County gang violence

Orlando police announced third arrest in shooting of 16-year-old Tavyiah King

Photos of some of the people arrested and some still wanted following Operation X-Force (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference Friday, detailing a nine-month investigation by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation into gangs operating within Orange County.

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Sheriff John Mina was joined by MBI Director Ron Stucker, Orlando police Deputy Chief Jose Velez and representatives from the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mina said the investigation, called Operation X-Force, began in October as a feud between rival gangs — Army and 438 — was escalating.

Investigators said the feud was spurred on by disputes over music, women and territory. Mina added that the Army gang operates out of the Mercy Drive area, while the 438 gang operates out of the Silver Star Road area.

“The ongoing feud that has been going back and forth between these gangs has been responsible for over 30 shootings and several homicides in a number of our jurisdictions,” Mina said.

Investigators highlighted the deaths of four people who were killed as they were caught in the crossfire of retaliatory shootings, including Tavyiah King — the 16-year-old niece of Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill.

Victims of gang-related violence (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

During the news conference, the Orlando police deputy chief announced a third arrest in King’s shooting death, Jeremiah Woods.

According to Velez, Woods faces a charge of first-degree murder and investigators believe it was his gun that killed King. Two teens were already arrested and facing charges for King’s shooting death — Anthony “Ant” Barnes, 17, and Jacarious Jermaine Jevonte Simpson, 18.

Throughout the course of the investigation, 15 guns were pulled off the street, which included two stolen guns and two that were directly involved in King’s death, according to Stucker. Investigators said they also recovered 13 auto sears — which are devices that can convert a semi-automatic gun to fully automatic — inside the home of Jacquavius Smith, who also goes by the name GlokkNine.

Stucker said in all, 34 people have been arrested over the course of the investigation and of those 32 are facing racketeering charges.

“This case with these 34 defendants is being prosecuted by the office of statewide prosecution,” Stucker said.

Attorney General Ashley Moody released a statement about these arrests. It reads:

“This coordinated, multiagency takedown of some of the most violent gang members in Central Florida was the result of months of hard work, skillful law enforcement investigative efforts and legal assistance by my Statewide Prosecutors. We will not let violent criminals involved in a gang war run roughshod through our communities — threatening the lives and safety of our citizens. As Attorney General, I will continue to stand with our brave law enforcement officers as they fight to keep Floridians safe. With these criminals now in custody, my Statewide Prosecutors will use every tool at their disposal to ensure justice is served.”

See the full list of suspects, including those still wanted by investigators, below:

Anyone with information on those wanted suspects or with information on the unsolved shooting deaths of 18-year-old Dexter Rentz Jr., 14-year-old Denis Joshua Atkinson or 3-year-old DeQuan Felix Jr. is asked to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.