42 dogs, 22 vehicles confiscated from Manatee family accused of running drug ring

Olga, Robert and Elizabeth Reyes. Manatee County Jail booking photos

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Authorities confiscated more than 40 dogs, 22 vehicles and dozens of weapons from a Manatee County family accused of running a major drug operation.

Deputies arrested a Manatee County man, his wife and sister after an investigation spanning more than eight months.

In October of 2015, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies began investigating a drug organization that they suspected was led by 41-year-old Robert “Tito” Reyes.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said, “It was a family operation. And Tito was no doubt the dead of this organization.”

Last month, deputies say they confiscated around $711,000 worth of drugs including heroin, cocaine, Fentanyl, marijuana, LSD, methadone and other narcotics.

Bristow said, “It was a little unusual in the fact that [Tito] did most of it himself. He would manufacture some of the drugs, he would buy narcotics and he would turn around, he would go out on the street and sell the drugs.”

Deputies also seized $439,000 in cash along with the vehicles, weapons and dogs. Many of the animals were malnourished and mistreated.

Officials say it’s possible they were part of a dog-fighting ring. They are being cared for at Manatee County Animal Services. Officials say the animals will soon be put up for adoption.

Reyes faces numerous counts of trafficking in narcotics and possession with intent to sell narcotics.

This week, deputies also arrested his wife, 37-year-old Elizabeth Reyes. She’s been charged with five counts of trafficking in narcotics and ten counts of possession with intent to sell narcotics. Reyes’ sister, 43-year-old Olga Reyes was also arrested and charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

Officials say the family worked to keep up appearances. Reyes owned a business repairing cars on 26th Avenue East. The business is right across the street from some County offices. But it was all a front. No work was ever done there.

Jim Samuels works at Approved Roofing next door. He said, “It’s pretty wild that it was right next door to our office the whole time. We had no idea.”

He rarely saw people over there and thought it was odd. He said, ““I noticed there really wasn’t much going on but I just figured maybe he was storing them there and was fixing to start repairing them.”

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office worked with FDLE, FBI and Manatee County Animal Services on this investigation.

Officials say the case is ongoing, and there may be more arrests coming.

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