Snapchat drug ring suspects dodge trial by accepting plea deals

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Three Gainesville men accused of operating a drug-trafficking ring using Snapchat avoided trial Monday after negotiating last-minute plea deals. Authorities began investigating the group after a late-night shootout at Cabana Beach — an apartment complex popular with University of Florida students.

Two of the defendants, Montayvious McKinnon and Tremayne Frazier, both 25, were being tried in the case for selling drugs from apartments at Cabana Beach and Rocky Point in 2020.

A third defendant, David Lee Gordon Jr., 26, was accused of selling marijuana and THC products from Rocky Point only, prosecutors said.

Two other men charged in the case, Byron Jones and Keldric Bradley, both accepted plea deals on Thursday that landed them 30-month prison sentences followed by five years of probation.

Prior to jury selection, Paul DeCailly, McKinnon and Frazier’s attorney, filed a motion to continue. In a Sunday night interview, DeCailly cited eleventh-hour changes to his clients’ charge sheets as the reason for the request. 

Additionally, DeCailly filed a motion to suppress, arguing state evidence tying McKinnon to a Dodge Charger he’d allegedly rented and stocked with drugs was obtained pre-Miranda, according to court records.

Judge James M. Colaw, who presided over the case, denied both motions.

Gordon’s public defender, Matthew Landsman, filed a motion of his own, requesting that Gordon be disjoined from Frazier and McKinnon because Gordon’s alleged involvement was limited to Rocky Point.

Colaw denied that motion, too.

Following a recess, Colaw asked DeCailly if McKinnon and Frazier were willing to accept plea deals. After consulting with McKinnon and Frazier outside the courtroom, DeCailly told Colaw his clients were prepared to enter negotiations.

Originally facing seven charges, McKinnon pleaded no contest to racketeering and trafficking in synthetic cannabinoids. The trafficking charge carries a mandatory minimum of three years confinement and a $50,000 fine.

Frazier, pleaded no contest to racketeering and a tampering charge. Prosecutors added the latter charge on Friday due to allegations that, after the shootout at Cabana Beach, Frazier wiped prints from a firearm before stashing it under a stairwell.

During the sentencing phase, DeCailly argued for a 55-month sentence for McKinnon before being cut off by Colaw.

The judge shook his head before telling those in attendance the drug case was one of the most significant he’d presided over.

“This was not some small-time marijuana business,” he said. “The volume of drugs and money collected into evidence could fill up a jury box.”

Colaw then sentenced McKinnon to 10 years in prison, $52,500 in fines and five years of probation.

Frazier was sentenced to seven years confinement followed by five years probation.

Gordon pleaded no contest to four charges including conspiracy, distribution, illegal use of a communications device and maintaining a drug dwelling. He was sentenced to five years confinement followed by five years of probation.

As Colaw delivered sentences, friends and family of the men broke out into cries. Others left the courtroom in disgust.

One by one, the men were fingerprinted, handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom.

Marco Gordon, David Gordon’s cousin and McKinnon’s friend, said he was upset with Colaw’s ruling. He said he hoped for more lenient sentencing for both men but added the outcome did not come as a surprise.

“Sometimes in life you don’t get what you want, but what are you gonna do about it, you know?” 

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This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org

About Bryce Schuele

Bryce is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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