The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 23 people who allegedly stole credit card information to purchase large amounts of fuel and sell it on the black market.

Since November of 2017, members of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Direct Action Response Team began investigating cases involving the illegal transportation of fuel, identity theft, and trafficking of stolen credit cards.

In these cases, suspects traditionally use credit card and personal information that has been “skimmed” at gas station pumps and ATM’s and re-encoded on blank gift cards and credit cards to purchase large amounts of diesel fuel. The diesel fuel is then transported in containers located inside vehicles. The containers are generally dangerous, homemade, unapproved and not designed to transport fuel of any kind. The fuel is later sold on the black market at a discounted rate, Sheriff’s Office officials said.

Since the beginning of this ongoing investigation, members of the Direct Action Response Team, with the assistance of various other units within the Sheriff’s Office, have located 17 vehicles illegally transporting fuel and have arrested 23 individuals.

The charges range from schemes to defraud, trafficking/possession of more than 50 counterfeit credit cards, grand theft, knowingly with unlawful intent possessing five or more items of personal identification information, use or possession of identification information of another without consent, obtaining fuel by fraud, and the unlawful conveyance of fuel.

During this investigation, the credit card information of 382 victims were located in the hands of suspects purchasing and transporting illegal fuel. The victims include hundreds of people from around the country, dozens of citizens of Osceola County. Currently, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is working with the United States Secret Service and the Florida Department of Agriculture to combat this crime, and as of now, more than half of the suspects charged in these crimes have been federally indicted.

Speeding motorcyclist killed on Osceola Parkway

An Orlando motorcyclist was killed early Friday morning after crashing on Osceola Parkway.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, Cortez Harrison, 30, was driving a 2017 Suzuki motorcycle westbound at about 12:20 a.m. on the parkway at an “extremely” high rate of speed.

Harrison failed to navigate a curve in the road as he approached Storey Lake Boulevard and traveled into the shoulder of the parkway for a few hundred feet before hitting a drain pipe. He was pronounced dead on scene.

The crash remains under investigation.