Three Baker County men were taken into custody during the last year as part of an investigation into what local and federal authorities say is likely a Mexican meth distribution ring supplying a very pure form of the drug to buyers in Northeast Florida.
Robert Joseph Hartzog, 27, and Garrett Michael Follis, 27, both of Baker County, were allegedly sold the drugs, some of which was found to 73.3 percent pure methamphetamine, by Archie Crook, 35, of Nassau County, who was buying ounces of the drug from the top supplier so far in the investigation, Ashley Chase Lee, 31, of Alma, GA, authorities said during a 1 p.m. press conference today at the sheriff's office north of Macclenny.
Mr. Hartzog and Mr. Follis are accused of then distributing the drugs in Nassau and Duval counties, much of it from an apartment in Macclenny.
Also arrested from Baker County and set to go to trial in September is Anthony Fisher, 35. He allegedly began selling meth he obtained from Mr. Crook, authorities say.
Mr. Hartzog and Mr. Follis have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charges as part of plea deals with U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida.
Randy Crews, a narcotics investigator with the Baker County Sheriff's Office who works on a regional Drug Enforcement Administration task force, said authorities seized more than 200 grams of meth during the investigation. He added that no guns were seized in the investigation but they were present.
An undercover individual working with the DEA task force reportedly bought the drug from Mr. Hartzog, Mr. Follis and others. Authorities say the pair first sold the individual two ounces of meth for $2500 on July 1 of last year and the transaction was recorded on audio and video.
The individual continued to make buys and eventually made contact with Mr. Lee.
If convicted, all four suspects face a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to life in a federal prison.
Authorities said the high purity level of the seized meth likely means it was manufactured in Mexico, as the more "shake and bake" method of manufacturing meth that's more common in Baker County, doesn't come close the purity levels found in the seized drugs.
Investigator Crews said the investigation is ongoing and more suspects could be targeted going forwarded.
The suspects were taken into custody on the following dates: Mr. Lee, the alleged "source of the supply," on April 9, 2014; Mr. Crook on May 29, 2014; Mr. Hartzog on December 17, 2013; Mr. Fisher on April 10, 2103 and Mr. Follis on February 28, 2014.