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Sheriff Judd: 41 gang members arrested in year-long investigation

A total of 41 people have been charged during the investigation.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A year-long investigation in Polk County led to the arrests of 41 members and associates of the "Sex Money Murder" criminal gang, according to the sheriff's office.

Out of the 41 people identified during the investigation, 12 are charged with racketeering for their role in organized criminal activity. These charges equal a total of 121 felonies and 40 misdemeanors.

What kind of criminal activity? Illegal drug sales, robberies, the introduction of contraband into prisons, conspiracy to commit murder and planned attacks on other gang members, according to deputies.

"Sex Money Murder, which is a subset of the United Blood Nation gang, is so violent, they're so ruthless [and]...so dangerous, we need to bring to the community's attention what they are doing," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Wednesday.

"It's never alright to rob, shoot [or] kill other young folks."

The investigation into the gang activity started last year when information uncovered an extensive criminal network that was connected to the gang, the sheriff said. Polk County asked State Attorney General Ashley Moody's office for help.

"Evil lurks in our communities, there's no doubt about that," Moody said. "And evil must be contained, and that means taking dangerous people out of our communities and putting them behind bars where they cannot hurt anyone else."

"Sex Money Murder" members pride themselves in creating fear in the gang and drug communities, Judd explained. He said they're known for street-level drug dealing, aggravated assaults, drive-by shootings and murders.

In two different home invasion incidents, members of the gang pistol-whipped an 8-year-old child and placed a gun on a three-month-old baby's head, according to the sheriff.

Through the partnership with Moody's office, the Polk County Sheriff's Office was able to conduct its first-ever gang wiretap, which is called T3.

"That's right, we listened to social media apps, we would listen to cell phones and their communications through court orders," Judd said.

Judd thanked Moody for allowing them to use wiretaps to monitor the gang’s activities.

Law enforcement members say they've been able to identify members of the gang operating both inside and outside of prison and in the Polk County Jail through the investigation.

"Our goal is that they never breathe air outside of a prison again," the sheriff said.

Six search warrants served throughout the investigation in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Mount Dora, Orlando and Lake City resulted in illegal drugs, firearms and money seized, including:

  • 21.45 pounds of methamphetamine
  • 2,595 grams of cocaine
  • 3,051 grams of cannabis
  • 249 grams of MDMA
  • 719 grams of synthetic cannabis
  • 7.86 grams of fentanyl (one gram can kill hundreds)
  • 28 grams of mushrooms
  • 8 grams of alprazolam
  • 52 grams of oxycodone
  • 1846 grams of promethazine
  • 18 firearms
  • $17,514 in U.S. currency

According to the sheriff's office, the total street value of the drugs seized is more than $1.5 million.

Judd said he spoke of some members who were arrested already, like the head of "Sex Money Murder" in North Carolina 33-year-old Jonathan Fleming. He was reportedly attending a mandatory national meeting for the gang in Osceola County was he was arrested.

As of now, there are two active arrest warrants out for 36-year-old Hernando Thompson, the reported "Sex Money Murder" gang leader of Florida, and 27-year-old Xavier Ulysse who deputies say attempted to arrange a murder.

The investigation is still ongoing into gang activity at this time.

"Our message to other gang members in Polk County and throughout Florida: don’t throw your life away on gangs," Judd said. "If you do, we will catch you, and you will go to prison for a long, long time."

Watch the full news conference down below:

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