LAKE CITY – An alleged drug ring that authorities say moved between $30 million and $33 million worth of cocaine and crack and an undetermined amount of marijuana through Columbia County was broken up in a series of arrests on federal and state charges over Labor Day weekend.
“We believe this is the largest drug ring ever uncovered in the county” said Columbia Sheriff Bill Gootee.
The case has been under investigation for at least two years and federal,state and local officials said the alleged ring may have been in operation for several years or more. The ring appeared to have ties to several North Florida communities as well as to Ocala and Miami authorities said.
A challenge for investigators was infiltrating the group, which was reportedly led by a father and three of his sons, authorities said. By midday Wednesday, four of the seven people wanted on federal drug charges had been arrested and 12 others had been arrested on state drug charges.
While making the arrests, which began August 31st, agents seized three vehicles, three weapons including an AK-47, crack cocaine and scales reportedly used to weigh it as well as $5,000 in cash authorities said.
Those accused of being ringleaders are Lake City residents who have been scheduled for a detention hearing in front of a federal judge in Jacksonville on Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Authorities said they have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine.
Those suspects were identified as Sylvester Warren, Jr., 48 also known as Motorcam and Cam, his sons Sylvester Warren III, 27 also known as Vester and Mook and Michal Demonn Warren, 25 also known as Pookie and Fatboy and Doug Bradley 26, also known as Cole Grady and Stunner who was identified by fedeal officials as a half brother of Sylvester III and Michael, authorities said.
Agencies who participated in the investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee County Sheriffs’ offices and the Lake City Police Department, the third judicial circuit, state attorney’s office and the U.S. attorney’s office.