POLK COUNTY, FL – May 21, 2020 - According to an online news report published on May 21, 2020, on WFLA.com, more than 70 individuals were arrested in a massive drug bust in Polk County, Florida. A nine-month-long wiretap drug investigation assisted law enforcement in obtaining names and evidence to make over 70 drug-related arrests, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation called “Operation Hot Wire” was initiated back in September of 2019. The operation was started after police investigated the murder of an individual in Dundee, Florida, and connected the murder with five armed home invasions that were gang-related and extremely violent. “Operation Hot Wire” focused on the illegal drug distribution activities occurring in Polk County, Florida.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office served 12 search warrants throughout Polk County, and the criminal investigation led to the arrest of 74 suspects. There were 711 total felony charges issued. The investigation resulted in the confiscation of 11 illegal drugs. The total estimated street value of the drugs seized by law enforcement is estimated to be about $500,000. In addition to the drug seizure, Polk County Sheriff’s deputies stated that they seized over $50,000 in the case and several firearms. Some of the firearms were stolen, and others were illegally possessed.
The report also stated that 68 of the 74 suspects had been arrested. The other six that have outstanding warrants have not yet been apprehended by law enforcement. The Polk County Sheriff’s deputies claim that two of the suspects are in the United States illegally. Eight of the suspects who were arrested have been receiving government assistance. The report states that 22 of the 74 suspects have served time in state prison with a combined criminal arrest total of 1,320 previous arrests.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the aforementioned five violent, armed home robberies are linked to several suspects in this drug investigation. Law enforcement stated that the community of Polk County had been negatively impacted by the activities committed by these criminals. Numerous families and communities suffered due to witnessing extreme violent crimes. Some families had loved ones who were victims of drug addiction, and a few victims tragically lost their lives due to fatal mixtures of fentanyl and heroin, which lead to overdoses. These drugs were sold by members arrested in the drug operation. Sheriff Grady Judd believes these arrests will save many lives.
According to the news report, the 11 illegal drugs seized in the bust include Alprazolam (Xanax), Cannabis/Marijuana, Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, MDMA, Methadone, Methamphetamine, and Oxycodone.
Florida Statute § 893.135(b)1 Drug Trafficking; Cocaine
In the State of Florida, “trafficking in cocaine” is a felony in the first-degree for an individual to purposefully sell, purchase, deliver, manufacture, carry into Florida, or have possession of 28 or more grams of cocaine. If a defendant is convicted of cocaine trafficking (but less than 200 grams), is punished with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years, plus a fine of up to $50,000. In many cases, the defendant, if convicted of trafficking cocaine, will receive a one-year drivers´ license suspension.