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Men impersonated cops while robbing Tampa Bay area drug dealers, feds say

Authorities said they dressed up like law enforcement and robbed people for narcotics in four counties.
One of the defendants after a robbery on March 30, 2021 in Zephyrhills.
One of the defendants after a robbery on March 30, 2021 in Zephyrhills. [ Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida ]
Published May 13

TAMPA — Four men are accused of dressing up like cops while robbing and shooting people who they believed were drug dealers, including in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

The men were indicted by a federal grand jury in April and face charges of conspiracy; interference with commerce by robbery; and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, according to the indictment. They could face up to life in federal prison.

The men charged are Reginald Roberts, 22, and Nathaniel Keith Carr, 28, both of Lakeland; Daniel Jackson, 29, of Winter Haven; and Chrishawn De’Earl Butler, 22, of Bartow.

Items seized after a high speed law enforcement chase in Hardee and Polk counties on April 11, 2021.
Items seized after a high speed law enforcement chase in Hardee and Polk counties on April 11, 2021. [ Courtesy of U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida ]

From December 2020 to April 2021, the men committed at least five armed robberies, including two in Zephyrhills, and others in Plant City, Lakeland and Cape Coral, the indictment said. Three of the robberies resulted in shootings, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, though it wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured in the shootings.

The men targeted people who they believed were drug dealers, authorities said. The men wore black gloves, masks and other clothing with “law enforcement insignia” and vests with “Sheriff” on them, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They also drove a black Dodge Durango and a white Chevrolet Malibu that had blue lights and sirens during some of the robberies, authorities said.

According to the indictment, the men robbed people of money, narcotics, jewelry, iPhones and a firearm at the victims’ homes.

The FBI led the investigation, with assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol, the Hillsborough and Pasco sheriff’s offices and other local law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Each of the men face a mandatory minimum sentence, including 31 years in federal prison for Roberts and Butler, 24 years for Jackson and 14 for Carr.

Butler and Carr’s first court appearances took place Thursday. Jackson and Roberts will have their first court appearances on June 7.

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

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