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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

February 19, 2010

Prepared Remarks of
Special Agent in Charge Hugo Barrera:

Operation Smoking Gun Press Conference
February 19, 2010

Let me begin by saying that the HIDTA Task Force concept is the seamless integration of federal, state and local law enforcement and is the reason that this operation was so successful.

I want to thank all of the men and women from ATF along with our partners from the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department, DEA, HIDTA, United States Marshals Service, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the Secret Service, ICE, CBP, the FBI, the Miami Dade Police, the US Attorney’s Office and the State Attorney’s office for their dedication and sacrifice in bringing down these violent, heavily armed, drug trafficking gangs, that have plagued the City of Ft. Lauderdale well before our yearlong investigation began. Your determination and sacrifice did not go unnoticed.

Violence, gun trafficking, drug dealing and identity theft were the main ingredients of these individuals criminal lifestyle. They preyed on those with addictions, and took advantage of the weak and defenseless for their own selfish gain to perpetuate a culture of violence on the streets of Ft. Lauderdale.

In February 2009, This multi agency task force began a proactive undercover operation designed to reduce violent crime in Broward County, Florida. Crime mapping analysis identified three primary areas of concern: illegal firearms, narcotics and the increase in violence associated with identity theft. Several violent drug trafficking organizations were targeted and a plan was developed to dismantle those organizations. The focus of the investigation was to utilize undercover agents to purchase guns, drugs and stolen identity documents from violent offenders and capture each transaction on audio and video.

The operation captured over 630 transactions involving close to a hundred suspects making hand to hand sales of an assortment of firearms, controlled substances, stolen identities and counterfeit currency. This investigation led to 87 arrests warrants of which, approximately 33 defendants are charged with federal firearm, narcotics and financial crime violations. Approximately 54 defendants have been charged with state narcotics and firearm violations. Of those charged, 41 are convicted felons, 8 are Armed Career Criminals and a majority of the remaining suspects have extensive arrest histories. In addition to dismantling a violent drug trafficking organization, an international firearms trafficking organization was identified and those suspects have been charged with numerous federal firearm violations.

Over the last 3 days, this operation resulted in the arrests of 78 of the 87 arrest warrants issued, and we executed 2 federal search warrants.

As a result of this operation this taskforce seized …

  • 312 firearms (including a machinegun and 3 sawed-off shotguns)
  • 2956 Oxycodone pills
  • 1616 Percocet pills
  • 568 Endocet pills
  • 245 Vicadin pills
  • 185 Morphine pills
  • 7762 MDMA pills
  • Over 3 kg of powder cocaine
  • Over 1.5 kg of crack cocaine
  • Over 5.1 kg of marijuana
  • Over $5,100.00 of counterfeit US currency
  • 61 sets of stolen identification
  • Stolen “bio-data” of over three hundred victims required for identity theft
  • and a Credit card skimmer used to load stolen information onto new cards…

I would like to point out that each one of these 312 firearms that we were able to take off the streets of South Florida represents an untold number of lives saved. and an untold number of violent crimes prevented.

The message is clear; if you choose to use a firearm to inflict violence on the innocent people of this or any other community in South Florida, you will be dealt with swiftly. Together with this seamless integration of federal, state and local law enforcement we will ensure solid investigations, successful prosecutions and long stays in prison for these predators. I would like to close with a quote from Author George Orwell, who wrote, We sleep safely in our beds because rough men and women stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.

Thank you.