March 17, 2006
Daytona police officer shot, drugs seized
Staff Writer
ORANGE CITY -- A Daytona Beach police officer was shot and 16 people arrested in what investigators called one of Central Florida's largest drug busts.


Edwards "It's the culmination of two years of investigative work," said Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson during a mid-morning press conference Thursday.
Agents seized drugs with a street value of about $1 million. Investigators say a Palm Coast man was the local ringleader.
While serving a warrant in the bust, Daytona Beach Police Officer Jeff Cahill was shot and wounded shortly after 6 a.m. while assisting fellow Special Response Team members at an Orange City home. The wounded 37-year-old officer was airlifted to Halifax Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition and expected to fully recover, officials said.
Investigators said Gabriel Michael Edwards, 29, shot Cahill as officers busted the door of his residence in the 1100 block of 18th Street. No other shots were fired or returned, investigators said. The bullet went through Cahill's armor in the upper chest area.
A woman and two children were at the home and the woman was found fumbling with a gun shortly after Cahill was shot, investigators said. Police said they recovered two handguns from the scene -- a 9 mm and a higher-caliber handgun.
FDLE is handling the shooting investigation and will decide on charges. For now, Edwards has been charged with federal drug offenses, said U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Steve Cole.
Several local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies -- including the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the DeLand, New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach police departments -- carried out "Operation Deltropolis" simultaneously Thursday morning in 12 homes and businesses throughout Volusia and Miami-Dade counties. Investigators seized more than 8 kilograms of cocaine, more than 200 pounds of marijuana, and several weapons for distribution in Central Florida.
"The drug trafficking careers of 16 individuals ended today," said DEA special agent Stephen Collins. "This organization has completely been dismantled."
Anthony Gonzalez, 38, the suspected ringleader, was arrested at his Palm Coast home. Gonzalez acted as a distributor, using a real estate business and a landscape business as a front for drug trafficking, Johnson said.
Outside one of Gonzalez's businesses in Orange City, neighbor Collin Macloud was surprised to hear about the bust. He said the neighborhood is quiet, but that there are probably a lot of things that go on that no one would know about.
"It's a perfect place to hide," he said standing outside All About Building, one of Gonzalez's front businesses. "It was just a normal business. They never made noise. The cops never went there."
The Gonzalez home is white stucco with pinkish trim and a red tile roof. A copy of the Ten Commandments and a metal sign rests against the front of the house.
Neighbors said they heard the "boom" between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Thursday when DEA agents, backed by Flagler County deputies, raided the 17 Rollins Lane home.
Michelle Garner, who lives across the street at 20 Rollins Lane, said DEA agents shoved everyone in the home to the floor, including a 15-year-old girl who walks with a cane. She said she saw seven cars and a SWAT van sat outside as agents detained the two adults and four children.
Lawanda West, who often visits the Garner home, called the Gonzalez family "good people."
"You don't know everything that's going on with people," she said. "You just know they treat you right."
Gonzalez and the others charged have extensive drug histories, according to state records.
Collins, the DEA special agent, said Orfanel and Fidel Jurado, two brothers originally from Mexico, were supplying the drugs to Gonzalez. Collins said the drugs were probably coming to the U.S. from Mexico through somewhere along the Texas border.
Authorities said that in the past two years, the trafficking organization moved about $12 million in drugs through Central Florida.
In addition to drugs seized, authorities said they gathered $400,000 in cash, a cocaine press used to compact the powdery substance, numerous vehicles used to transport drugs, and several residences purchased with drug proceeds, authorities said.
The 16 arrested face charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
If convicted, the defendants could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. U. S. District Attorney Rick Jancha of the Middle District of Florida will prosecute the case.
-- Staff Writers Sara Kiesler and Jim Witters contributed to this report.