The Central Florida HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Task Force has concluded a multi-agency two-year-long undercover drug trafficking investigation that resulted in 85 suspects arrested and three other suspects charged via warrants.
The investigation was initiated in September 2020 when detectives executed a search warrant in Winter Haven and seized a pound of methamphetamine.
From that point forward detectives continued to make undercover narcotics purchases from dealers in the Winter Haven area, and learned that large amounts of methamphetamine were being smuggled from California to Florida in checked luggage on domestic flights.
In February 2022, detectives began a wiretap investigation, during which court-order intercept of communications between suspects within the criminal drug trafficking organization were initiated and monitored.
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“I’m so very proud of our detectives and the agents and law enforcement officers who partnered with us to get these dangerous drugs and felons off the street. This is the single largest seizure of drugs and arrests made in the history of Polk County during an undercover wiretap investigation. We will continue to follow up leads and make more arrests, so those who think they got away from us – think again,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.
As a result of the investigation, 85 suspects were arrested and charged with a total of 355 felonies and 93 misdemeanors. The suspects’ previous criminal histories include 690 previous felonies, 712 previous misdemeanors, and 194 felony convictions.
Detectives served 14 search warrants in Auburndale, Davenport, Polk City, Lake Wales, Winter Haven, and Riverview, FL, as well as in Fresno, California.
The illegal drugs, firearms, and currency that were seized are:
- 268 pounds of Methamphetamine / 112,563 grams ($9,725,040 street value)
- 31 pounds of Cocaine / 14,055.17 grams ($1,405,337 street value)
- 180 pounds of Cannabis / 81,417.89 grams ($1,628,357 street value)
- 3.4 pounds of MDMA (Ecstasy) / 1,692.02 grams ($84,601 street value)
- 6.8 ounces of Fentanyl / 192.77 grams ($26,880 street value)
- 68 Alprazolam (Xanax) pills
- 173 Oxycodone pills
- 49 firearms
- 3 non-active grenades
- 2 bulletproof vests
- 1 stolen motorcycle
- $235,000 cash
The total street value of the drugs confiscated is over $12.8 Million. The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests and charges are pending.
The partnering agencies were, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE); Office of the State Attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit, Brian Haas; U.S Border Patrol; U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Tampa International Airport Police Department; Winter Haven Police Department; Orlando Police Department; Osceola County Sheriff’s Office (FL); St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office (FL); Fresno Police Department (CA); and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (TN).
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