Titusville Police Assist in Taking Down Major Drug Network in Volusia County

Narcotics agents dismantled a major illegal drug network on Friday in a series of coordinated raids that capped off a lengthy investigation into a local organization responsible for dealing large quantities of cocaine and prescription pills in Volusia County. In addition to moving thousands of prescription pills and between 1-3 kilograms of cocaine per month, investigators believe the group also has been involved in money laundering of the profits from their drug sales.
Led by the Volusia Bureau of Investigation (VBI), multi-agency teams of narcotics agents armed with arrest and search warrants began their sweep at 6 a.m. Friday morning in what has been dubbed “Operation Rock Star II.” One of their first targets of the operation was the reputed head of the drug organization, 28-year-old Ezra Johnson of New Smyrna Beach. Johnson was picked up at his home on Tatum Boulevard and immediately taken into custody on a warrant charging him with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, delivery of cocaine, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, and two additional counts of sale of cocaine. Johnson is being held on $220,000 bond.
Agents with both VBI and the East Volusia Narcotics Task Force spent months infiltrating Johnson’s drug network. Additionally, the Titusville Police Department had helped identify the person responsible for supplying cocaine to Johnson’s organization. Already before Friday’s raids, the investigation had netted nine arrests and the seizure of 408 grams of cocaine and 2,700 prescription pills. All totaled, the drugs have an estimated street value of $61,000. Spin-off cases led to the issuance of arrest warrants for 27 of Johnson’s alleged accomplices. And several of them had already been arrested before Friday. On Friday morning, more than 100 agents toting five search warrants fanned out to several locations in Volusia County and one in Brevard County looking for the rest of the organization. And the operation yielded significant results that put an entire drug organization out of business and earned the praise of Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi. “I applaud the Volusia Bureau of Investigation and partnering law enforcement agencies for bringing down this drug ring that has introduced large amounts of cocaine and prescription drugs into Florida’s communities,” said Bondi. “The arrests today send a powerful message that we will not tolerate this illegal behavior that threatens the safety of our residents, and the Office of Statewide Prosecution will ensure that the individuals are held accountable for their actions.”
On Friday, agents executed search warrants at four locations in Volusia County and one in Brevard County. They were as follows:
Ø                  1921 Tatum Blvd., New Smyrna Beach
Ø                  451 Hickory Street, Apartment #1, New Smyrna Beach
Ø                  1007 Alice Drive, Daytona Beach
Ø                  567 Antelope Drive, Deltona
Ø                  580 Lucky Street, Titusville
A total of 16 people were arrested during Friday’s operation. Their names, arrest warrant charges, and any additional charges are as follows:
  • Ashley Bryant, 24, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 200 grams or more, unlawful use of two-way communications device, sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church, and violation of probation.
  • Leon Burch, 30, Daytona Beach. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 200 grams or more, and unlawful use of two-way communications device.
  • Hattie Walker, 61, Daytona Beach. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 200 grams or more, and unlawful use of two-way communications device.
  • Kenje Donawa, 36, Port Orange. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 28 grams or more, attempted purchase of controlled substance, unlawful use of two-way communications device. Additionally, he had previously been arrested with possession of cocaine in association with this investigation.
  • Jabori Staley, 28, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 200 grams or more, and unlawful use of two-way communications device.
  • Amario Dempsey, 24, Edgewater. Arrest warrant charges: two counts of sale of MDMA, sale of marijuana.
  • Samuel Peterson Jr., 31, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: two counts of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park, sale of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a park.
  • Kayla Harbst, 22, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to purchase oxycodone, conspiracy to purchase cocaine, and unlawful use of two-way communications device.
  • Timothy Casebolt, 54, Edgewater. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to attempted purchase of a controlled substance, and unlawful use of two-way communications device. Additionally, he had previously been arrested with possession of cocaine in association with this investigation.
  • Alan Kofi Duh, 35, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church.
  • Tommy Owens Jr., 23, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park. Additionally, Owens was charged with the following at the arrest scene: possession of marijuana under 20 grams, and violation of probation.
  • Jormel Russell, 22, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: two counts of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church.
  • Chalese Sligh, 28, Edgewater. Arrest warrant charges: sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church.
  • Jeramie Boles, 25, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: sale or delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park.
  • Stratavious Tarpley, 20, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: fleeing or eluding a police officer, and possession of cocaine.
  • Earnest Johnson, 71, New Smyrna Beach. No arrest warrant. Other charges: possession of a stolen firearm, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Others previously arrested in the investigation include the following:
  • James Booth, 28, New Smyrna Beach. Charged with trafficking in hydrocodone.
  • John Ellis, Jr., 27, Edgewater. Charged with sale of cocaine.
  • Ruwach Israel, 41, New Smyrna Beach. Charged with sale of cocaine, and sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a community center.
  • Chrystal Joe, 26, Titusville. Charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 200 grams or more, unlawful use of two-way communications device.
  • Kelvin Lewis, 22, Holly Hill. Charged with two counts of sale or delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a childcare facility.
  • Quantah Richardson, 29, New Smyrna Beach. Charged with sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church.
There are five additional subjects who have arrest warrants, but are currently fugitives:
  • Anthony White, 29, Daytona Beach. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 200 grams or more, and unlawful use of two-way communications device.
  • Bernard Evans Jr., 33, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: two counts of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church.
  • Artravious Neal, 28, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: sale or delivery of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a park.
  • Farrion Hankins, 23, New Smyrna Beach. Arrest warrant charges: sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • Vencent Lewis, 45, unknown address. Arrest warrant charges: sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • Leoneil Sloley, 41, Titusville. Arrest warrant charges: conspiracy to traffic in cocaine 200 grams or more, unlawful use of two-way communications device, and sale of cocaine.
Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call VBI at (386) 274-0341 or Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida, toll-free, at (888) 277-TIPS. Tipsters can also provide information by texting “TIP231 plus the message” to CRIMES. Anyone who provides information to Crime Stoppers will remain anonymous and can qualify for a reward of up to $1,000.
Among the items seized during the morning’s raids were a half kilo of powder cocaine worth $20,000; 108 prescription pills, including oxycodone and xanax; 19 firearms, two of which were stolen; and more than $9,000 in cash.
VBI is a multi-agency task force that pools resources from 10 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in order to target mid- and upper-level narcotics traffickers as well as racketeering and organized crime. Participating agencies include the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Attorney’s General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, Daytona Beach Police Department, Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety, DeLand Police Department, Port Orange Police Department, New Smyrna Beach Police Department, the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. VBI also is part of the Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, which is a multi-agency task force established by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy to combat drug trafficking along the seven-county area hugging Central Florida’s I-4 corridor.
Also taking part in the investigation were both the East Volusia Narcotics Task Force and the West Volusia Narcotics Task Force. Both are multi-agency forces of narcotics agents that share resources and crosses jurisdictional boundaries to combat street-level drug and vice crimes. Participating agencies include the Sheriff’s Office and the Ormond Beach, New Smyrna Beach and DeLand police departments. Other agencies that participated in Friday’s operation included the Daytona Beach Police Department, Titusville Police Department, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.