Operation De'Ja Vu

In early 2005, the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team (UDEST) opened an investigation involving an organized group of individuals residing and distributing cocaine in the northern part of Marion County. UDEST named this investigation "New York Derrick" after its organizational leader and kingpin, B/M, Derrick Fitzgerald Smith. In addition to Marion County, Derrick Smith and his drug trafficking organization were responsible for trafficking large quantities of crack cocaine and powder cocaine into Alachua and Putnam counties as well.

In 2006, the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team opened another investigation involving a Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization operating out of Marion County. This highly organized group was operating under the direction and control of H/M Omar Hernandez. UDEST initially discovered a residence in the 4000 block NE 25th Avenye which appeared to be their base of operation. The UDEST set up on the residence and began to document their activities. After nearly two weeks of surveillance, the organization vacated the residence and dropped of the radar.

In 2007, after nearly two years of trying to infiltrate this Drug Trafficking Organization, UDEST obtained the intelligence they needed to actively pursue and ultimately dismantle the organization. It was during this investigation that UDEST discovered that Omar Hernandez and his Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization were Derrick Smith's source of supply. The two separate investigations quickly merged into one. UDEST discovered a residence located at 5851 SW 125th Court Road which was being utilized by Hernandez to facilitate his illicit activities. Utilizing confidential sources, surveillance and other innovative investigative techniques, UDEST was able to intercept cocaine and cash exchanges between the distributors and the buyers, obtain search warrants, seize their assets and effectively dismantle both of the Drug Trafficking Organizations.

The Omar Hernandez Drug Trafficking Organization imports their cocaine directly from Mexico. The cocaine is smuggled over the Mexican border into Texas. From there its transported by vehicle, usually concealed in elaborate "traps" or hidden compartments. This is accomplished by couriers "mules" working for the organization. The currency from the drug proceeds is sent back to Mexico utilizing the same techniques. Its believed that the Hernandez organization was responsible for bringing in three (3) major shipments of cocaine per year. Each shipment consisting of approximately 250 to 300 Kilograms of cocaine. It is estimated that each shipment had a wholesale value of $5,000,000. to $6,000,000.

An investigation of this magnitude requires an enormous amount of manpower, resources and cooperation. The success of this investigation is a direct result of multiple Local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies working together and pooling their individual resources to accomplish one task. The Marion County Sheriff's Office and its North Florida HIDTA Initiative would like to thank the following agencies for their support and active participation; The Florida Department of Law Enforcement,The Drug Enforcement Administration, The Ocala Police Department, The Florida Highway Patrol Contraband Interdiction Program (CIP), The Putnam County Sheriff's Office, NFHIDTA Tri-County Initiative, The Hawthorne Police Department and the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor.

Source: Marion County Sheriff's Office

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