Operation Lightning Bolt Strikes at Violent
DEC 15 -- Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Division, R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Katherine Fernandez Rundell, Miami-Dade State Attorney, Julie Torres, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol. Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Chief John F. Timoney, City of Miami Police Department, , and Christina Pharo, United States Marshal, United States Marshals Service (USMS), announced the federal indictment of twelve members of a local street narcotics organization in Phase II of Operation Lightning Bolt. Phase I of this operation was concluded on December 1, 2005, and resulted in the drug-related arrests of twenty individuals and the execution of sixteen search warrants throughout the City of Miami.
To date, approximately sixty defendants have been charged with narcotics trafficking, federal firearms violations, and related crimes. Of these, forty-two defendants have been charged federally. In addition, approximately 515 grams of crack cocaine, 700 grams of powder cocaine, more than $50,000 in cash, and an arsenal of firearms and ammunition have been seized. The seized firearms include a sawed off shot gun, an AK47 assault rifle, and an Uzi rifle. These weapons were used by the defendants to intimidate and attack rival dealers and others.
Operation Lightning Bolt, conducted under the Project Safe Neighborhood/Violent Crime Impact Team Task Force, showcased the effectiveness of federal and local cooperation to reduce drug-related violent crimes in city streets. The United States Attorney’s Office intends to use this as a model operation, to be duplicated in other parts of the Southern District that are seized by similar levels of street violence.
“With these arrests, the streets of Miami are safer today. DEA is committed to ridding communities of drugs and the violence that accompanies this death trade,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville. “We stand together with our federal and local partners in law enforcement to make our communities safer.”
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “It is time for us to reclaim our streets from drug dealers, their guns, and their violence. The prosecutions resulting from Operation Lightning Bolt is a good first step. We have reclaimed these neighborhoods and made them safer by effectively dismantling several street level drug organizations that did business through fear, violence, and intimidation. Going forward, we hope to partner with other cities in South Florida to conduct similar local impact operations to sap the violence from our streets.” Mr. Acosta commended the efforts of the DEA Miami Field Division, ATF, USMS and the City of Miami Police Department, and the various other state and local law enforcement agencies involved in the case.
“Effective law enforcement depends on the successful partnership of all parts of the law enforcement community, state, federal and local. Operation Lightning Bolt's successful attack on dangerous drug organizations shows what the combination of the State Attorney's Office, the United States Attorney's Office, the City of Miami Police Department, the ATF, the DEA and United States Marshall Service can do to help combat the scourge of drugs and violence in this community," said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "Working together like well-oiled machines makes us all better able to protect our communities."
ATF Miami Special Agent in Charge Julie Torres said, “This investigation is a national model for ATF’s Violent Crime Impact Teams and what they are designed to do. Through law enforcement partnerships, we were able to dismantle violent criminal organizations that have plagued Miami for some time. By arresting these individuals, we have taken the first steps in returning the streets of Miami to its residents.”
Miami Police Chief John Timoney added, “Law enforcement partnerships, as so beautifully demonstrated in this operation, are absolutely essential to successful crime fighting in the 21st Century."