U.S. District Judge Wendy W. Berger has sentenced Thomas Michael Ibarra (30, Brevard County) to 19 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Ibarra had pleaded guilty on October 27, 2020.
According to court documents, Ibarra was responsible for distributing more than 9 kilograms of fentanyl in the Brevard County area during the approximately one-year period leading up to his arrest.
Further, when arrested, Ibarra was in possession of nearly a quarter of a kilogram of fentanyl, and during the execution of a search warrant at his residence, law enforcement recovered two firearms, over three-quarters of a kilogram of fentanyl, scales, and other drug paraphernalia.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Palm Bay Police Department, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Melbourne Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn P. Napier.
According to an arrest affidavit, detectives found over 2 pounds of fentanyl and heroin in the Nissan Altima Thomas Michael Ibarra fled in at speeds “easily in excess of over 100 mph” through Vero Beach and into Sebastian.
On Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office Special Investigation’s Unit was asked to assist Palm Bay Police Department Narcotics Unit officers as a drug case suspect they had followed from Miami neared Indian River County.
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Palm Bay police spokesman Lt. Steve Bland said narcotics officers go wherever their case takes them, and regularly span jurisdictions.
“They had some information, followed him and during the course of that provided information to Indian River,” said Bland.
Palm Bay narcotics officers said they saw Ibarra, 28, walk into a business in Miami and leave with a black plastic bag “believed to contain narcotics.”
A detective said in the report the bag was later found in the back seat of the Altima and determined to be 2.2 pounds of fentanyl and heroin, according to Ibarra’s arrest affidavit.
Palm Bay narcotics officers said there were two men in the vehicle heading north on I-95 and both stopped and went into Wellington Mall in Palm Beach County. Then they headed north on Florida’s Turnpike.
An Indian River detective spotted the Altima heading east on Okeechobee Road in St. Lucie County where it exited the turnpike. It later merged onto Interstate 95 heading north.
When it entered Indian River County, a sheriff’s patrol deputy stopped it for speeding at an estimated 82 mph and Ibarra pulled the vehicle over and told the deputy he didn’t have identification, according to his arrest affidavit,
Officials said he accelerated and fled north on the interstate, exiting and then “recklessly” driving across State Road 60 in Vero Beach before returning to I-95 and continuing north “in excess of 100 mph” while “weaving in and out of traffic.”
Indian River County sheriff’s aviation and patrol units kept sight of the vehicle. After a second unsuccessful traffic stop, officials said they did not chase the vehicle.
Ibarra left the interstate at the County Road 512 exit and continued eastbound until WW Ranch Road at North County Regional Park, where the report says, “a felony traffic stop” was made.
Ibarra was arrested in the 9400 block of County Road 512 around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and booked into Indian River County Jail. He was charged with trafficking a controlled substance, and felony fleeing and eluding.
Sheriff’s officials estimated the street value of the drugs to be $150,000.
“The quantity and purity of the fentanyl seized is beyond deadly,” said Sheriff Deryl Loar in a prepared statement. “We continue to see opioid overdoses in our community and are working hard to eradicate it from the streets. If these drugs made it back to Palm Bay, we are sure they would have ended up in the hands of users within and around our community.”