7 Bradenton residents indicted on meth trafficking in Manatee County

Seven Bradenton residents were charged for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine in Manatee County, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida announced Friday.

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced the unsealing of a 17-count indictment Friday that shows that charges Clemente Bentacourt, 27, Estevan Bentacourt, 18, Larry Lee Woodward Jr., 28, Adonis Bonilla, 28 Omar Mejia, 28, Jesse Leahy, 47, and Alexander Perez, 29, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Between March 2022 and May 2023, they were allegedly in possession of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine while in Bradenton, according to the indictment, which said that, in addition to the conspiracy charges, they are also charged with narcotics transactions on specific dates.

If convicted on all counts, each faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison, according to a release sent by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida on Friday.

As part of the indictment, any property traced to the proceeds of the drug offenses will also be forfeited to the United States government, the release said.

At the time of the arrests, three firearms, around one pound of methamphetamine, 22 cellphones, cocaine and marijuana were seized after a search warrant was executed at Clemente and Estevan Bentacourt’s houses in Bradenton, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said.

The case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, which includes Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

It also involved the Central Florida Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which is made up of the Bradenton Police Department, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the North Port Police Department, the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Palmetto Police Department, and the Sarasota Police Department.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also assisted with the investigation.

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