Hendry County deputies seek fugitive accused of trafficking meth, fentanyl

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Efren Berumen

Hendry County deputies want the public’s help in tracking down a fugitive accused of trafficking more than 48 pounds of fentanyl and 380 pounds of meth throughout Florida.

According to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, Efren Berumen Jr., 39, has been eluding law enforcement for his role in a drug operation that already resulted in the arrest of 25 people. Operation 13 Tiers was announced last fall after investigators revealed that Carlos Martinez, a Florida prison inmate, and his co-conspirators were giving gang members instructions on moving large shipments of narcotics across the U.S. and into Florida for distribution. Over the course of the investigation, local, state and federal agents seized large shipments including fentanyl, meth, heroin, morphine, 45 guns, $150,000 in cash and 15,000 additional fentanyl pills.

Investigators say Martinez used a cell phone from behind bars to give orders to 24 of his co-conspirators, all of whom have been arrested and charged with more than 60 first-degree felonies of drug trafficking and violent crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder.

Berumen is the sole suspect to avoid capture since a warrant for his arrest was issued in Hendry County last August.

“Efren Berumen is accused of playing a key role in the distribution of these highly lethal drugs into communities across our state,” said Trish Routte, manager of Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers. “While it is a win that nearly all of the other individuals involved have been arrested, it is of paramount importance that Berumen is brought into custody so that we can be assured that he isn’t continuing to peddle dangerous drugs into nearly every crevice of the state.”

Detectives say Berumen has ties to Southwest Florida but could be laying low in Tampa, Orlando or Miami to keep himself from going to prison. He often is referred to by the street name “Brownie.”

Anyone who has seen Berumen, or has information on his whereabouts, can call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-8477. All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000 from Crime Stoppers and $5,000 from the U.S. Marshals. Tips may also be made online or on the P3 Tips app.

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