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Friday, June 2, 2023

Silver Springs man sentenced to prison for role in fentanyl, cocaine distribution ring

A 38-year-old Silver Springs man has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for his role in a fentanyl and cocaine distribution ring.

On Wednesday, James Richard Howell was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton, Jr. to 57 months in federal prison after pleading guilty last December to conspiracy and possession of fentanyl and cocaine with intent to distribute.

Silver Springs man among those sentenced to prison in fentanyl distribution ring
James Richard Howell

In addition to Howell, three men from Orlando – Carlos Roman (57), Kenneth Angel Vera (31), and Joely Manuel Burgos (39) – were also sentenced this week by Judge Dalton for their involvement in the drug distribution ring.

According to court records, Roman supplied cocaine and fentanyl to Howell, Burgos, and Vera for resale and regularly communicated with each of them on a cellphone that was monitored by law enforcement pursuant to court-ordered authorization.

“Operation Titan Fall” was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and agents seized approximately 110 kilograms of cocaine and multiple kilograms of fentanyl through the mail, traffic stops, and search warrants at various properties.

The DEA estimates that 91 kilograms of cocaine were seized through the mail and traffic stops initiated during the investigation. Authorities intercepted communications that frequently referenced the drug ring’s “brands” or “logos”: a blue anchor and a Ferrari.

Branded cocaine that was seized during Operation Titan Fall by the DEA and Central Florida police agencies
Branded cocaine that was seized during Operation Titan Fall by the DEA and Central Florida police agencies

Those logos were found on the packages that were seized by law enforcement.

On August 9, 2022, Roman was arrested at his home with 19 firearms, 6 silencers, 3 flash-bang grenades, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Roman, Vera, and Burgos all pleaded guilty in December 2022. Roman was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for possession of cocaine and possession of a firearm equipped with a silencer in furtherance of drug trafficking. Vera was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and Burgos will spend 51 months behind bars.

“Illicit fentanyl is highly addictive and incredibly destructive. The individuals who bring this poison into our communities must be held accountable for their actions,” stated Deanne L. Reuter, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge.

Operation Titan Fall is a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCEDTF) investigation. Multiple local police agencies across Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties aided in the operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.

“The success of this investigation is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of these investigators as well as the cooperation and collaboration between DEA and our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners,” added Reuter. “DEA remains committed to these partnerships to continue to keep our communities safe and healthy.”