ALLAHASSEE, Fla.––Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration today announced the arrest of five individuals in connection with a massive methamphetamine and cannabis ring. Combined, the five arrestees have 84 prior felony charges with 20 convictions and 67 prior misdemeanor charges with 22 convictions.
The following defendants have been arrested for involvement in this ring:
· Gary McLeod, 53;
· Carley Poettker, 25;
· Kevin Preston, 45;
· Brian Tharp, 43; and
· Dylan Woodward, 26.
Detectives launched the investigation in October 2017 when authorities connected one of the defendants, Tharp, with obtaining and distributing large quantities of meth. Over the course of approximately six months, law enforcement officers worked to identify Tharp’s associates and others potentially connected within the network. Investigators later seized more than eight pounds of meth, more than $160,000 in cash, nearly 400 grams of cannabis, 67 prescription pills and a semiautomatic handgun. During the investigation, deputies conducted a traffic stop that led to the arrest of the second defendant, McLeod, where authorities found nearly 24 grams of meth hidden inside the defendant’s shoe.
Authorities received a tip that led to the third defendant, Woodward, for allegedly selling drugs out of a hotel room. During the execution of two search warrants, investigators found more than 170 grams of meth, oxycodone pills, various drug paraphernalia and more than $700 in cash. Detectives arrested the fourth defendant, Preston, when detectives recovered 87 grams of meth, 58 grams of cannabis and 10 prescription pills. The fifth defendant, Tharp’s girlfriend, Poettker, is responsible for involvement in trafficking large quantities of meth with Tharp, the leader of the ring.
During this operation, authorities uncovered more than 3,800 grams of methamphetamine and more than 450 grams of cannabis. The defendants are facing charges related to trafficking in methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of cannabis, possession of alprazolam. The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the case.