From Bay News 9
LAKELAND -- Nearly $2 million worth of methamphetamine was seized and 13 people arrested in what Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is calling one of the biggest meth busts they've had in recent years.
In a press conference Wednesday, Judd laid out the details of the bust, known as Operation Hoodoo Voodoo, which involved 25 suspects distributing drugs across county and state lines, a stockpile of military-grade weaponry and a Voodoo priest.
“It’s about drugs and money and guns," said Judd. "This is the kind of firearms that our special agents and our detectives and our deputies face everyday as we fight this war on drugs."
Judd said officials seized about 44 pounds of methamphetamine, worth nearly $2 million, and that the suspects were stockpiling more than 100 dangerous military-style weapons. The meth was being distributed around Central Florida, in Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk and Seminole counties.
The six-month investigation was a joint effort involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. “We seized about 44 pounds," said Judd. "That’s 20 kilos of pure methamphetamine.”
Investigators said drug lord Javier Flores, also known as "El Don," managed large scale methamphetamine shipments to Lakeland, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada through southern California from Mexico. The organization included a network of couriers, managers and distributors.
Flores would consult a Voodoo priest who would provide predictions, prophecies and readings regarding the organization’s decisions and welfare, officials said. “This is Polk County vernacular, how we hoodoo the Voodoo man," said Judd. "The day we served all the search warrants and made all the arrests, he told them, 'Don’t worry about it, everything is fine.'
"Well, I agree with the Voodoo man, everything is fine. Polk County is safe and there’s a lot of drugs not in central Florida.”
DEA agent Mark Trouville said this latest bust will make the streets a lot safer.
“We’re talking about 106 weapons we seized here," said Trouville. "Forty semi-automatic rifles, silencers and a grenade launcher. Folks, that’s more long arms than most police departments have in the United States."
Investigators confiscated 44 pounds of meth (worth nearly $2 million) at Love's Truck Stop in Polk City on Tuesday, arrested 13 suspects, seized tens of thousands of dollars, seven vehicles, approximately 100 weapons, bullet-proof vests, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Two children, ages 1 and 3, were removed from a residence and placed into DCF custody.
This investigation is still ongoing. Deputies are looking for 12 other suspects around the country they believe were involved in the drug ring.