The Collier County Sheriff’s office recently announced the end to a yearlong multijurisdictional investigation involving a methamphetamine trafficking operation in South Florida and California.
Six people have been arrested as a result of “Operation Ice Breaker” and additional warrants issued. According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, arrests have been made in California, Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties.
Collier County detectives seized 6 pounds of crystal meth with a value of $96,000. This is the largest quantity of meth that has ever been confiscated in Collier County. Just two counties north of Collier, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office seized 8.49 pounds of methamphetamine, 454.6 grams of marijuana, 67 prescription pills, and $163,000 cash.
In recent years, law enforcement has seen a change in the way methamphetamine is produced. Operation Ice Breaker is an example of an organized mass production and distribution of the schedule 2 drug.
“Recently the production (of meth) has increased dramatically and differently,” Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said at a news conference Friday. “It’s more highly refined today, it’s massed produced, and it’s not necessarily done in backyard clandestine labs as we used to see years ago.”
The five Southwest Florida residents who have been arrested for their involvement in Operation Ice Breaker include:
Michael Adrian Stonebreaker, 48, Naples, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine. His bond is $3.25 million.
Biron Land Bacher, 48, Cape Coral, was charged with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and trafficking in methamphetamine. His bond is set at $2 million.
Stephanie Michelle Shaw, 43, Goodland, was charged with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine. Her bond is set at $300,000.
Jason Nicholas Garff, 49, Naples, was charged with possession of methamphetamine. His bond is set at $25,000.
The fifth subject, Brian Tharp, 43, Venice, was arrested May 19 by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and charged with trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. He remains in the Sarasota County Jail on a bond of $501,500.
“We believe that with this arrest we are making Southwest Florida a much safer community,” Rambosk said. “Because we know on a national level we’re seeing an increase of methamphetamine production and use and co-use with opioids.”