A 22-year-old Florida man was killed and one of his companions and an undercover police officer were wounded in a drug deal gone bad in Putnam County Wednesday. Rodrigo Espinoza of Pomona Park becomes the 23rd person killed in domestic drug law operations so far this year.
According to police accounts, two undercover police officers had arranged to buy cocaine and weapons from Espinoza and two other men. When the police arrived at the isolated meeting place demanded by the trio, the officers exited their car.
"Almost immediately when these three arrived they produced handguns and gunfire was exchanged," said Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman Keith Kameg. "As far as the motive, we're looking into numerous possibilities about what they were doing."
One of the undercover officers, St. Augustine Beach detective David Tiller, was shot in the leg during the confrontation and was recovering at a DeLand hospital. The other, who was described only as a US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent, was uninjured.
One of Espinoza's crew, 19-year-old Avery Corbitt, was shot and wounded in the neck and was hospitalized. He is charged with trafficking cocaine, although no cocaine was found at the scene. The other member of the trio, Espinoza's 17-year-old brother Emmanuel, fled the scene but was captured hours later. He is charged with aggravated assault and cocaine trafficking.
The undercover agents were working on temporary assignment to the Tri-County Drug Task Force, which is composed of officers from Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties and federal agencies under the supervision of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
[Editor's Note: This year, Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at [email protected].]
– Article Originally from Stop the Drug War.