POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Thirteen gang leaders who officials say are part of the Bloods-affiliated Sex Money Murder gang have been arrested in Florida. These gang leaders were arrested during an operation that officials say resulted in the arrest of 41 gang members total.
This massive law enforcement operation conducted by the Attorney General's Office, Polk County Sheriff and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,
eliminated the main leadership of a violent, nationwide gang operating in Florida.
“You might ask, well how violent are they Grady? Well, think about this. They went into one home invasion and pistol whipped an 8-year-old child," said Sheriff Grady Judd.
Attorney General Ashley Moody, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say the suspects face a wide array of charges stemming from gang activity that included a complex scheme to deal drugs in state prisons. Charges include racketeering, directing the activities of a criminal gang, witness tampering and conspiracy to commit murder.
“First degree felony of racketeering is 30 years. When you do a gang enhancement it’s life. Our goal is that they never breathe air outside of a prison again,” said Grady Judd.
According to a multiagency investigation, leadership of the gang organized a scheme to smuggle synthetic cannabinoids into at least three state prisons. Evidence secured during the investigation revealed that members of the gang sprayed the drugs onto pages of the Bible, Qur'an and greetings cards and then mailed them to gang members in the prisons.
During searches at the homes of gang leaders in three counties, police found firearms as well as large quantities of crack, cocaine and cannabis. Authorities say the total street value of the drugs confiscated is more than $1.5 million.
Several members face charges associated with home invasions. During the investigation, authorities say gang leadership also ordered murder-hits on two former gang members and face charges associated with those crimes.
Detectives served six search warrants throughout the investigation in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Mount Dora, Orlando and Lake City.
Two suspects have warrants for their arrests. Xavier Ulysse, 27, of Lake Wales has a Polk County warrant for his arrest for Conspiracy to Commit Murder. Hernando Thompson, Jr., 36, of Orlando is the Sex Money Murder gang leader of Florida.
“The sooner we get him actually in jail because he’s already charged with racketeering the better, but he is the head guy in Florida,” said Judd.
During this investigation Polk County started a gang task force to get smaller gangs off the street. Tuesday a drive-by shooting happened outside of Lakeland city limits. Investigators believe it is gang related. They are looking for suspects and asking the public to report any tips by dialing **TIPS (8477).
“If you don’t feel safe in your neighborhood and you know who is the root of that fear, you can report that anonymously,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said.