Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
May 5, 2009
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Numerous Members of Central Florida Gang Arrested
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today joined the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to announce the arrests of 18 members and associates of a dangerous narcotics-trafficking gang located in Central Florida. The investigation into the Westside gang was initiated as part of a concerted effort of regional law enforcement agencies in accordance with the Attorney General’s Gang Reduction Initiative.
Arrested as part of the operation were Daniel Perez, 27; David Perez, 25; Martin Pulido, 45; Alberto Carbajal, 26; Fernando Lopez, 30; Juan Martinez, 27; Adam Medina, 22; Horacio Vega, 26; Jose Sanfeliz, 29; Olga Perez, 47; Diana Quintana, 30; and Richard Silguero, 29; all of Winter Garden. Also arrested were Zeferino Vega, 38, and Amondo Ortiz, 29, both of Mt. Dora; Juan Urla, 32, of Kissimmee; Jymel Smith, 33, of Orlando; and Juan Mendez, 42, of Lady Lake. The defendants were charged with criminal racketeering, conspiracy to traffic 150 kilos of cocaine or more, money laundering and victim tampering. Daniel Perez has been identified by investigators as the alleged leader of the gang and has also been charged with directing the activities of a criminal gang, a first-degree felony punishable by a life sentence and a new criminal charge under the newly enacted criminal gang statute.
Through regional intelligence sharing efforts, the gang was identified as an organized criminal enterprise which was trafficking millions of dollars of cocaine and cannabis in the Central Florida area. During the course of the investigation, authorities seized more than 125 pounds of cocaine and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cannabis.
According to the arrest affidavits, which have been sealed by a circuit court, Westside members were also involved in money laundering and tax evasion to further support their criminal enterprise. The gang allegedly uses two businesses associated with leader Daniel Perez – Hot Dog City and Diana’s Secretarial Services in Winter Garden, Florida – to launder money derived from drug sales. Evidence gathered during the investigation indicates that Daniel Perez is financially supporting incarcerated Westside members and their families in exchange for their silence about Perez and the criminal activities of fellow gang members.
The joint investigation was conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Authorities first documented activity by the Westside gang in 1997 and to date, there are approximately 80 documented members and associates of this gang. Many members and associates have extensive criminal histories which include violent and drug-related crimes. Several members have previously been convicted of homicide, aggravated battery with firearms, weapons offenses and victim or witness intimidation. One known member, Javier Trevino, is currently wanted for killing a Central Florida woman in 2006. Trevino is believed to be a fugitive at this time.
Those arrested were booked into the Lake County Jail. The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute this case.