The Florida Supreme Court has granted Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ request to impanel a grand jury on crimes stemming from illegal immigration.
The Court ruled Wednesday that good and sufficient reason to establish a statewide grand jury to investigate crimes like human and drug trafficking and gang activity. The order comes nearly two weeks after the Republican Governor petitioned for a grand jury to investigate such crimes as he criticized President Joe Biden’s “sanctuary federal government.”
While the panel will investigate crimes across Florida, the grand jury will draw jurors from the 10th Judicial Circuit, which covers Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties. The grand jury shall meet for 12 months.
The grand jury will target a broad swath of crimes. Burglary, robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, drug crimes and organized crime are among those listed.
“By fulfilling our request to impanel a grand jury, the Florida Supreme Court has enabled the State of Florida to take the next step in fighting back against Biden’s disastrous border policies,” said Larry Keefe, senior advisor to the Governor for public safety. “This grand jury will allow us to gather critical information on the harmful consequences of illegal immigration on our state, including the prevalence of human trafficking and smuggling and the flow of illicit drugs like fentanyl within our borders.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has backed the DeSantis administration’s opposition to Biden’s border policies, said she was pleased with the Court’s decision to impanel the grand jury.
“I look forward to our Statewide Prosecutor working with jurors to investigate matters related to human smuggling, trafficking and the unlawful release of dangerous criminals here illegally,” Moody said.
When announcing his petition, DeSantis articulated that the grand jury would examine individuals and organizations that are working with foreign nationals, drug cartels and coyotes to “illegally smuggle minors.” Additionally, he intended the panel to investigate methods of smuggling and local governments that are aiding the smuggling.
The Florida Supreme Court’s announcement comes after authorities found the bodies of 51 migrants abandoned inside a tractor-trailer outside of San Antonio in the Texas heat.
DeSantis visited the southern border last summer after sending law enforcement officials to the Lone Star State at the request of Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. He said he was surprised to learn how many immigrants wish to reach Florida after entering the country illegally.
“The drugs that are coming in affect us, and then just the sheer number of people,” DeSantis said earlier this month. “If (Biden is) letting all these people in, and they’re going to all communities across our country, just think how many schools are going to be overwhelmed, other health care, other types of public services, just because they can’t keep control of the border.”
As DeSantis announced his request for the grand jury, he also implemented legislation (SB 1808) to prevent transportation companies from doing business with Florida if the companies participate in programs to transport to Florida people who are in the country illegally. Additionally, the Governor announced a law enforcement strike force to crack down on drug and human trafficking, as well as immigrants who are in the country illegally and carrying firearms illegally.