Three arrests more than a month ago have enabled Citrus sheriff's investigators to break up what they say was an organized theft ring with five more arrests and more than 90 felony charges. Gail Tierney, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said Friday that youths recruited for the ring were paid off in small quantities of cocaine and marijuana.
The story emerged after deputies arrested three youths in connection with a burglary in September, Tierney said. Those youths, whose names were withheld because of their ages, told investigators of two men and another youth who recruited them to burglarize cars and homes.
They were told to look for videocassette recorders, cameras, television sets, guns and other valuables, Tierney said. The youths were paid for their services with drugs, she said.
The ringleader then sold the stolen goods outside the county, often in South Florida.
After a search of the Inverness home of Hubert Coleman, 39, that netted stolen goods and drugs, authorities decided the home was the drop-off point for the burglary ring members, Tierney said. The investigation then centered around a 30-year-old former Inverness resident, Lawrence Eno.
Eno was arrested Sept. 24 in Pompano Beach by Broward County sheriff's deputies. He is charged with trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. He is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail in the Broward County Jail.
Eno is one of eight suspects now charged in connection with the burglaries. Tierney identified the others as:
Coleman, who was arrested Sept. 22 after deputies searched the home and found marijuana plants and a videocassette recorder. Coleman, owner of Coleman Concrete, is charged with one count of principal to dealing in stolen properties and several drug-related charges. Also arrested that day
was his son.
Kevin Coleman, 17, whom authorities say recruited other teens to join the burglary ring. He is charged with two counts of grand theft and possession of stolen property and several drug-related charges. He is being charged as an adult.
Linton Knowles, 18, of Crystal River, charged with eight counts of burglary, six counts of grand theft and 11 counts of dealing in stolen property.
Robert Gallagher, 20, of Crystal River, charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of grand theft.
Two Homosassa youths, whose names were not released, on numerous burglary and grand theft charges.
An Inverness youth, also not identified, on several felony charges.