On Thursday, July 21, the Florida Narcotics Officers’ Association recognized the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team (UDEST) as the ‘Statewide Drug Unit of the Year.’
This is the second consecutive year that UDEST has received this award for its achievements. During the past year, UDEST seized over $4.5 million in drugs, which set a new record for the unit.
According to a media release from the Ocala Police Department, UDEST identified eight drug trafficking organizations during the past year, and UDEST’s investigations led to these organizations being dismantled or disrupted.
UDEST agents also served 58 search warrants, and 264 individuals were arrested or federally indicted for changes that ranged from drug trafficking to murder. These investigations led to the seizure of 12,905 grams and 907 pills of fentanyl, 846 grams and 29 pills of heroin, 27,634 grams of crystal meth, $368,502 in cash and assets, and 56 firearms.
In addition, UDEST investigated 110 overdose deaths and arrested numerous suspects for their alleged roles in these deaths.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said, “The dedication and commitment of our UDEST agents to arrest these criminals and remove illegal drugs from our streets is something I am proud of. As a testament to their hard work, three defendants received life sentences for their roles in either trafficking fentanyl or murder. Their hard work is making Marion County a safer place.”
“The commitment of our UDEST agents to protect and serve is what continues to ensure the safety of our community,” stated Ocala Police Department Chief Mike Balken. He added that the efforts and motivation of the agents will continue to rid the local community of these deadly drugs.