Bradenton drug leader arrested on multiple charges; narcotics totaling $711,838 seized

A Bradenton man who reportedly leads a local drug organization has been arrested on multiple drug charges after a massive raid, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported Monday.

In October, the sheriff’s office began an investigation into a drug organization led by Robert “Tito” Reyes, 41. On June 14, search warrants were executed at 2516 15 St. E, Bradenton (Reyes’ primary residence), 1523 8th Ave E., Bradenton, 1923 7th Ave. E., Bradenton, 3015 61st St. E., Palmetto, 4315 26th Ave. E., Bradenton, 2806 7th St. W., Bradenton, and 1035 26th Ave. E., Bradenton.

Heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana, LSD, methadone and other narcotics totaling $711,838 were seized during the search warrants. Also seized were approximately $439,000 in cash, 38 vehicles, 33 firearms and 42 dogs, many of which appeared to be malnourished and mistreated, according to a press release.

Reyes was arrested June 14 and charged with trafficking in narcotics, the sheriff’s office said. On July 7 and 8, the sheriff’s office said Reyes was charged with eight other counts of trafficking in narcotics and 11 counts of possession with intent to sell narcotics. Reyes is being held in Manatee County Jail on bonds totaling $669,500.

“This is one of the largest investigations we’ve ever been involved with, if you look at the sheer numbers, not arrests, but the amount of cash that was seized, the amount of narcotics that was seized, vehicles, firearms,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow. “I mean, it’s extraordinary.”

Robert’s wife, Elizabeth Reyes, 37, was also charged with five counts of trafficking in narcotics and 10 counts of possession with intent to sell narcotics. She is being held in Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $427,500, according to the release.

Robert’s sister, Olga Reyes, 43, was arrested July 8 and charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. She was released the following day from Manatee County jail on $1,500 bond.

According to Bristow, one of the residences listed above was the home of Reyes’ mother, another was Olga Reyes’ residence, and two were rental properties.

“You’re talking family, rental properties, and a business,” he said.

Bristow said he wouldn’t call Reyes’ organization a one-person operation because it did branch out to Reyes’ family members, but that Reyes “did just about everything” as far as dealing narcotics.

“He would go out into the streets and do deals,” Bristow said. “That’s unique, to get someone who would actually buy or manufacture the narcotics, and then go sell the narcotics and do the deals on the street. I’m not talking about selling it to the middle men — I’m talking about going out and doing deals on the street.”

Reyes was dealing more heroin than other drugs, the sheriff’s office spokesman emphasized.

“We got roughly 1.56 kilos of heroin. That’s a lot of heroin. That makes up almost half of the street value of the drugs we confiscated,” Bristow said. “We hope this will help what’s going on around the county.”

According to a warrant for Elizabeth Reyes’ arrest, undercover detectives with the sheriff’s office purchased narcotics from Reyes. On June 9, detectives made arrangements with someone who would have Robert Reyes deliver the narcotics.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Todd Shear, who is captain of the agency’s Special Investigations Division, said the FBI and FDLE were part of the team that aided in the investigation, with the bulk of resources coming from the sheriff’s office.

“At Narcotics Division, we focus on short-term as well as long-term investigations and this was certainly long-term in terms of trying to identify those people that are trafficking illegal narcotics in our county, and we definitely identified one — Robert Reyes,” Shear said, adding that he’s most proud of the support he and the division has received from the sheriff’s office and community.

Shear said he’s also most proud of the team members who worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure this was a good case.

“We’re not done investigating this case and there’s more work to be done,” he added. “There’s more pieces of the puzzle to put together.”

The sheriff’s office said the investigation is ongoing with the possibility of further arrests and charges.

Anyone with information on the Reyes case is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.

As for the dogs seized, Manatee County Animal Services took them in last month as a result of the investigation. Evidence of breeding dogs for fighting emerged a few weeks later. According to Bristow, charges are still pending in that case, which is under investigation.

Amaris Castillo: 941-745-7051, @AmarisCastillo