UNIFIED DRUG ENFORCEMENT STRIKE TEAM
The Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team (UDEST) is administered by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and is an initiative of the North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). UDEST is a federally funded initiative comprised of local and federal agents from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Ocala Police Department, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The main goal of this unit is to reduce the distribution and importation of narcotics in Marion County. The agents work long-term investigations focusing on upper level drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations.
UDEST significantly impacts drug trafficking organizations by employing a number of investigative techniques to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations. In 2015, UDEST initiated 642 criminal cases, which included 723 tip sheets. Both of which resulted in the arrest of 399 people, consisting of 594 felony charges and 159 misdemeanor charges. UDEST seized 16 kilos of cocaine, 40 kilos of marijuana, 37 kilos of marijuana plants, 4 kilos of methamphetamine, 1.25 kilos of heroin, 1,924 prescription pills and dismantled 60 methamphetamine labs. Additionally, UDEST seized 13 vehicles, 28 firearms and $175,000 in U.S. currency.
During the 2015 calendar year, UDEST seized nearly 1.2 million dollars in drugs and nearly $500,000 dollars in assets.
UDEST uses a variety of investigative techniques in the suppression and apprehension of individuals violating drug, prostitution and gambling laws. UDEST conducts wiretaps, search warrants, controlled narcotics transactions, marijuana eradication missions, buy busts operations, drug reverse operations, drug sting operations, prostitution stings and parcel package interdiction operations.