News Release
Date: August 30, 2012
Contact: Public Information Officer
Number: 954-660-4602

Operation Gateway Busts “Bottoms” Area
Drug Ring in Lake County

AUG 30 – (LAKE COUNTY, Fla.) – Eighteen street level poly-drug distributors have been indicted on state and federal drug charges. Yesterday’s operation was announced by Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, Virginia O’Brien, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Tampa Field Division, and Gary Borders, Sheriff, Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Yesterday’s arrests include the following 12 State Defendants:

  • Jerry Paul Balliet (65, Altoona), charged with: Trafficking of oxycodone and firearms.
  • Russell Bryan Bowling aka “Brian” (48, Umatilla), charged with: Trafficking of oxycodone and possession with intent to sale.
  • John Junior Copeland (26, Mount Dora), charged with: Sale of marijuana, Possession of marijuana, Possession with intent to sale synthetic cathinone (bath salts), possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Sonny Willie Cunningham aka “Bono” (25, Umatilla) charge with: Sale of crack cocaine within 1000ft from place of worship, sale of crack cocaine.
  • Stacie Marie McGowan (32, Eustis) charged with: Trafficking of oxycodone, sale of oxycodone, possession with intent to deliver.
  • Gussie Scott Smith (77, Umatilla) charged with: Trafficking of oxycodone.
  • Fred White, Jr. aka “Rapper” (42, Umatilla), charged with: Possession of oxycodone with intent to sale.
  • Deshawn Mitchell Williams aka “Lil Man” (33, incarcerated), charged with: Possession with intent to distribute oxycodone within 1000ft from place of worship, sale of oxycodone
  • Lashawn Mitchell Williams aka “Big Man” (33 Umatilla), charged with: Possession with intent to distribute oxycodone within 1000ft from place of worship, sale of oxycodone, Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction, and sale of crack cocaine
  • Gregory Robinson (30, Lake County), charged with: Possession of cocaine.
  • Marlon Underwood (28, Lake County), charged with: Possession of crack cocaine.
  • Robert Bronson (28, incarcerated), charged with: Sale methamphetamine, Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Three state defendants, Hiram Malone (51, Lake County), Quincy Perry (35, Lake County), and Tarvert Lee Bryant aka “Vert” (36, Umatilla) still remain at large.    

Three federal defendants, Marcus Durias (25, Lake County), John Woodberry (26, Orange County), and Alex Henderson (23, Orange County) were also arrested and charged with: Possession of a firearm and ammunition, distribution of a controlled substance and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction.

Yesterday’s operation also resulted in the seizure of eleven vehicles, nine of which were from a car lot owned by Russell Bowling and two other members of this organization.

This investigation was initiated in February 2012, in the Lake County area referred to as the “bottoms.” The “bottoms” is a well-known area for criminal activities where poly-drug dealers are known to hang out and distribute narcotics, stash stolen vehicles and sell weapons. This area of Lake County is in the City of Umatilla, which is the gateway to the Ocala National Forrest.

Over the course of this undercover investigation, trafficking amounts of oxycodone prescription pills, crack cocaine, ecstasy pills, marijuana and firearms have been purchased from these individuals. In addition, 11 weapons were purchased during the course of this investigation.

This is an ongoing joint investigation being conducted by DEA Orlando District Office, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group, ATF Orlando Field Office, and Lake County Sheriff’s Office, dubbed “Operation Gateway.” This investigation is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida and the Lake County State Attorney’s Office.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville commended the investigative efforts of the DEA HIDTA Group, ATF and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the many other state and local agencies involved in these operations.

An indictment is merely a formal charge, and every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.