Soca drug and cash haul keeps on growing

skinney@keynoter.comFebruary 5, 2014 

Detective Mark Jones displays some of the drugs found in a pipe on the Soca property.

SHERIFF'S OFFICE

As a Stock Island family accused of a massive drug trafficking operation heads to arraignment Feb. 13, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate and more charges could be coming.

Detectives served a search warrant on the 6th Street trailer compound of Juan Soca Sr., 63, Juan Soca Jr., 42, and Jose Soca, 38, on Jan. 29, then expanded the search to a nearby storage shed and three boats.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said that by the time the search wrapped Saturday, detectives recovered 10 kilos of cocaine (more than 22 pounds), more than two pounds of marijuana, 2,100 Xanax bars, 1,300 Oxycodone pills, a 7.5-gram cookie of crack, about 700 undersize lobster tails and $252,261 in cash believed to be drug proceeds.

Assistant Monroe County State Attorney Mark Wilson is prosecuting the trio, who are due before Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones for arraignment at 8:45 a.m. on Feb. 13 at the Freeman Justice Center in Key West.

Jose Soca is charged "so far," Herrin said, with trafficking cocaine and Oxycodone, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possessing the short lobster tails, which were found in a freezer on his property. His bond is $6.055 million.

Juan Soca Jr. is charged so far with trafficking cocaine and Oxycodone. He's held on a $6 million bond.

Juan Soca Sr. is charged with trafficking cocaine and is held on $1 million bond.

State Attorney Catherine Vogel said her office is coordinating with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami to determine whether to prosecute at the state or federal level. The current charges are state charges.

"In this case," she said, "the state and the federal government have both coordinated an effort to do an investigation so we'll sit down together and we'll make that decision."

"Sometimes the penalties are higher in state court, sometimes the penalties are higher in federal," she said. "There're a lot of factors that go into consideration. It's fact-specific."

At the state level, Wilson said the minimum mandatory sentence for being convicted of trafficking Oxycodone is 25 years in prison. It's 15 years for a cocaine trafficking conviction.

Agencies involved in the case include the Sheriff's Office, Key West police, the Monroe High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area group, Key West HIDTA, Homeland Security Investigations and state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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