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 2016, UDEST initiated 841 criminal cases, which included 596 tip sheets. Both of which resulted in the arrest of 572 people, consisting of 942 felony charges and 169 misdemeanor charges. UDEST seized 1 kilo of heroin, 3.5 kilos of cocaine, 287 kilos of marijuana and 104 marijuana plants, 10 kilos of methamphetamine, 2,123 prescription pills and dismantled 52 methamphetamine labs. Additionally, UDEST seized 52 firearms, 8 vehicles and $245,964 in U.S. currency.
During the 2016 calendar year, UDEST seized nearly 1.8 million dollars in drugs and nearly $330,000 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.