For four months, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Florida has been investigating the county residents for serious drug dealing in their “Close To Home” operation. The “Close To Home” cartel is known in the county for having the cocaine, heroin and prescription pills on deck and the cops caught wind after complaints from neighbors. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office worked in conjunction with Clermont, Mount Dora and Leesburg police departments, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Orlando division of the U.S. Marshal’s Office to nab 74 people led by 27-year-old ringleader, Michael Alberto Gonzalez. The feds got two pounds of dope, seven ounces of coke and about 300 prescription pills. The police estimate that the haul has a value of $140,000 on the street.
Thus far, 67 of the 74 suspects have been served. Some of the suspects have children that they allegedly dealt drugs in front of, so the Florida Department of Children and Families intervened. Department personnel removed the children from their homes and placed them with suitable family members for the time being. Along with the drugs found, investigators took “23 vehicles, including two BMWs and two Suzuki motorcycles, along with 20 guns and about $33,000 in cash.” The cars will be “sold or used by the participating agencies.”
After Tuesday’s bust, Sheriff Gary Borders said, “This is a huge bust. They [suspects] never went too far from home. They were making these transactions…where families are shopping with their kids.”
Most of the suspects are from the “south Lake” area in Florida. The age range drastically from 18-60 years of age. The leader, Gonzalez has a criminal history with drug charges and other offenses. He’s said to be a “danger to the community.”