PASCO Co., Fla. — We’re learning about the nearly 40 gang members cuffed and jailed in a big investigation unfolding in the Tampa Bay area.
It was a three-year investigation ending with more than 110 illegal firearms seized. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office teaming up with ATF and the State Attorney’s Office to cuff 39 alleged gang members.
“You know these are one of those very proud moments we have," said Sheriff Chris Nocco of Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
They say the suspects are part of the Unforgiven and United Aryan Brotherhood prison gangs working mostly out of Pasco County. But most stunning of all is the amount of guns authorities confiscated including a rocket launcher and pipe bombs.
“It’s scary when you look over that table and you see those guns and they are in the hands of felons," said Nocco.
Now they are off the streets as are several pounds of mostly meth and fentanyl. The ones behind these alleged crimes are well known to authorities.
“I want to send a message to these defendants that you can’t keep coming in and out of prison and come back and affect the community with violence and drug trafficking," said Maria Chapa Lopez, U.S State Attorney for Middle District of Florida.
These suspects are facing anywhere from two years to life in prison. Even more alarming is 31-year-old Richard Mormon, who was caught with at least two fully operational pipe bombs. Authorities say they aren’t aware of any plans Mormon had with them. Operation Blackjack doesn’t end there. Authorities are expecting to arrest more people but, of course, are keeping quiet on the details.