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Partnership Policing Communications Coordinator (PIO)
Genevieve Judge
Desk Phone: 941-954-7094
Fax: 941-954-7034

Sarasota Police assist with DHS investigation; Methamphetamine trafficking organization indicted

Post Date:08/15/2023 12:59 PM

The Sarasota Police Department's Strategic Investigations Unit assisted the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division of the DHS with the following case. HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats. HSI’s mission is to investigate, disrupt and dismantle terrorist, transnational, and other criminal organizations that threaten or seek to exploit the customs and immigration laws of the United States.

The press release below was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida:

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the unsealing of a 17-count indictment charging Clemente Betancourt (27), Estevan Betancourt (18), Larry Lee Woodard, Jr. (28), Adonis Bonilla (28), Omar Mejia (28), Jesse Leahy (47), and Alexander Perez (29), all residents of Bradenton, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. If convicted on all counts, each faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. The indictment also notifies the defendants that the United States intends to forfeit any and all property, which is alleged to be traceable to the proceeds of the offenses.

According to the indictment, between March 2022 and May 2023, the above-named individuals were involved in a conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine in Bradenton and throughout Manatee County. In addition to the conspiracy charges, the defendants are charged with narcotics transactions on specific dates.

At the time of the arrests, a search warrant was executed at Clemente and Estevan Betancourt’s house in Bradenton. As a result of that search, three firearms, approximately one pound of methamphetamine, 22 cellphones, cocaine, and marijuana were seized.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by a joint Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) which includes Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Central Florida Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which includes the Sarasota Police Department, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the North Port Police Department, the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Palmetto Police Department, the Bradenton Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also assisted with the investigation. This case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Maria Guzman, David Sullivan, and Suzanne Nebesky.

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

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