Creative code names let officers talk shop without being discovered
By Sarah Langbein
The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — Sometimes the most memorable part of a police operation is its name.
Often lighthearted, creative and even comical, operation names give police a way to talk about exhaustive, undercover investigations without blowing their cover.
"It's so that if we're talking about a case over lunch, we can do it without ever saying what the case is about or who the defendant is, and we can do without anyone eavesdropping," said Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation Director Bill Lutz.
Naming rights typically go to the person heading up the operation.
And occasionally, it's a sign that those in law enforcement can keep a sense of humor, even when dealing with serious subjects such as guns, drugs and murder.
Just last week, Polk County deputies conducted Operation Pop Top, an effort to find stores in the Mulberry and Bartow areas that were willing to sell alcohol to minors. Two did.
And in Volusia County, the narcotics task force launched Operation No Crack for Christmas, an attempt to get drug dealers off the streets. Eleven were nabbed.
Here's a list of some more of the more memorable local operations in recent years:
*Operation Cookie Monster, 1992: A Winter Garden-based drug ring linked to 11 killings brought down 23 individuals.
The roundup was named after the cocaine mix that resembles a cookie as it bakes.
*Operation What's Up G? and Operation G-2, 2004: Following an influx of the date-rape drug, GHB, into Central Florida, investigators launched a probe into the source of the problem, which led them to Pinellas County. Authorities seized chemicals capable of making 11 million doses of the drug. Thirty-seven were arrested, including 35 from Central Florida.
*Operation Which Doctor, 2007: This started as a local investigation into Signature Compounding Pharmacy and has since become a national case. The Orlando pharmacy is suspected of illegally distributing anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and other controlled substances across the country. Signature executives are facing charges in Albany County, N.Y. The local case is ongoing.
*Operation Diogi's Revenge, 2007: The operation was named after a slain Polk County police dog, Diogi, who was gunned down Sept. 28 with his handler, Deputy Sheriff Vernon "Matt" Williams.
The two were in pursuit of Angilo Freeland, who ran away from a traffic stop near Lakeland. Authorities said Freeland, who was shot 68 times, was part of a drug-trafficking ring with an Orlando branch.
*Operation Weeping Willow, 1995: Former Florida State University running back and Miami Dolphin Sammie Smith was arrested after an investigation into drug dealing on Willow Street in North Apopka. Smith was one of 35 arrests made. More than 8 kilograms of cocaine were seized.
*Operation Doublemint, 2000: Twins Darrell and David Williams were arrested in a major cocaine and crack-cocaine distribution ring in the Pine Hills area. The brothers owned a car-detailing business and a dump-truck service in Orange County.
*Operation Catch Stretch, 2001: It started as an investigation of a man who owned a limousine thought to be his front for criminal activity. This led police to Jorge Farah, thought to be one of largest drug dealers in the area.
The operation led to seizure of 80,000 kilos of marijuana 400 kilos of cocaine and $1 million in cash and property. Prosecutors tried to recover more than $19 million in drug profits police say Farah gambled away at casinos in Las Vegas and California.
*Operation Night at the Roxbury, 2007: The target was a drug ring at Roxy's Nightclub in Orlando. One of the club's managers, Jeremy Feller, and bartender Lawrence Marren were arrested on charges related to selling the drug Ecstasy.
*Operation China Doll, 2007: Authorities said area massage parlors were fronts for brothels. The two-year investigation — into the illicit industry that often exploits illegal immigrants -- led to the arrest of Li Ping Ding, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, and Georgia woman Gloria Morris, a Korean native formerly of Orange County.
Note: These investigations were the work of the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Orange County Sheriff's Office, Orlando Police Department, Winter Park Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Marshals and Winter Garden Police Department.
Copyright 2008 Orlando Sentinel