Crime

Kingpin dealt drugs in Manatee for decades. He’ll spend just as much time in prison

FBI, DEA produce documentary warning teens about heroin

The video was a co-production of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, agencies known for busting dealers, not instructing teens. Watch the full documentary at bit.ly/FBIdoc.
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The video was a co-production of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, agencies known for busting dealers, not instructing teens. Watch the full documentary at bit.ly/FBIdoc.

A drug dealer who ran a major operation in Manatee County for 25 years has been sentenced to spend time in federal prison.

Robert “Tito” Reyes, 43, who was busted in June 2016, made a plea deal and was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 25 years and ordered to pay $2.7 million in fines. He was facing nearly 40 drug-related charges and up to life in prison.

When the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office raided his properties, they found more than $700,000 worth of drugs and $439,000 in cash. Deputies also seized 33 firearms, 42 dogs and 38 vehicles. At the time, it was one of the largest investigations the sheriff’s office has been involved in.

Investigators said Reyes often relied on his wife, Elizabeth, and his sister, Olga, to help him run the operation. Reyes, however, made drug transactions almost every day, according to evidence from six phone lines that were wiretapped.

Even as the head of the drug ring, Reyes met with buyers who texted or called him so that he could deliver drugs ranging from marijuana to Xanax to oxycodone and Adderall, according to court documents.

“The pernicious impact of Robert Reyes’ criminal enterprise in our community cannot be overstated, especially given the panoply of drugs he disseminated. He has supplied generations of drug addicts over the past 25 years,” said Assistant State Attorney Dawn M. Buff who prosecuted the case.

The investigation began in October 2015 and was conducted by the sheriff’s office, along with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Elizabeth Reyes was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by two years of probation. Olga Reyes pleaded guilty but has not been sentenced yet.

Ryan Callihan is the Bradenton Herald’s County Reporter, covering local government and politics. On the weekends, he also covers breaking news. Ryan is a graduate of USF St. Petersburg.
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