Ponce Inlet Smuggling

ponceInletSmugglePonce Inlet, Fla. —

The suspected mastermind behind a large drug ring in Volusia County may have also had his hands in smuggling people into the United States, according to law enforcement officials.
Channel 9 reported Friday on a raid at an auto repair garage in Holly Hill. Several boats were on the property at the time of the raid.
Investigators said the raid was connected to a prescription pill trafficking organization called the “Big Boyz Family.”
Now investigators told Channel 9’s Jeff Deal that they believe the same group was charging people in the Bahamas anywhere from $500 to $2,000 each to be brought into the U.S. at Ponce Inlet without passing through customs.
Penny Wheeling and her husband live behind Big Boyz Towing. She said she was surprised when agents showed up to raid the business, another business next door and some nearby homes.
“At first (my husband) thought somebody was robbing them. (He) turned around, it said DEA and everything,” said Wheeling.
Wheeling said she was surprised to learn that investigators said the businesses were actually fronts for an illegal prescription pill operation run by the so-called  Big Boyz Family and headed up by Jeffrey Hanks.
New court documents indicate Hanks is suspected of also being involved in human smuggling.
“Maybe a month ago, they started bringing boats in,” Wheeling said of the Big Boyz business.
Investigators arrested two other men, Victor Paul and Wandack Dawkins, both Bahamian citizens.
According to investigators, Dawkins admitted he was the captain of a boat that ran people from the Bahamas to Ponce Inlet.
Dawkins said Hanks and Paul recruited him and collected money from passengers, according to investigators.
On Tuesday, there were still three boats on the property.
Neighbors said earlier they saw investigators take at least one boat away.
Wheeling said she worried about the type of people being smuggled in.
“You never know who they’re bringing over — drug dealers, it could be anybody,” said Wheeling.
Investigators said Paul told them he collected some money from passengers in the Bahamas and Hanks collected the rest once they arrived here.
Hanks has not been charged in the smuggling operation, but investigators say the case is ongoing and several other people could face charges.
more via :  http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/investigators-say-man-arrested-pill-mill-bust-coul/nfwMW/

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