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Major Drug Bust by Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Four Arrested with $3.5 Million Worth of Fentanyl Seized

In a significant blow to a Mexican drug trafficking organization, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with multiple agencies, has successfully dismantled a network responsible for distributing dangerous narcotics across several states. The operation culminated in the arrest of four individuals and the seizure of a staggering 14 kilograms of fentanyl, with an estimated street value of $3.5 million.

The investigation, which spanned several months and involved coordinated efforts from law enforcement agencies in various states, targeted a sophisticated drug trafficking ring operating in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and beyond. Led by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the multi-agency task force left no stone unturned in its mission to disrupt the illicit activities of this organization.

“Fentanyl is an enormous threat to Americans today,” stated Sheriff Grady Judd. “In addition to the tens of thousands who are killed by fentanyl-related drug overdoses each year, there is also great damage done to families and communities. I am confident that with the arrests and seizures made during this investigation, many lives have been saved in Polk County and beyond.”

The operation began in August 2023, with members of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force initiating surveillance and gathering intelligence on the drug trafficking organization’s activities. With assistance from agencies such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, The United States Border Patrol, and the State Attorney’s Office 10th Judicial Circuit, investigators meticulously pieced together crucial information to dismantle the criminal enterprise.

The breakthrough came when detectives managed to intercept two kilograms of fentanyl during the early stages of the investigation. Subsequent operations, including a meticulously planned in-person transaction at a motel in Lakeland on April 5, 2024, led to the apprehension of four suspects.

On April 22, 2024, Maria Machuca-Alderete, Maria Guadalupe-Garcia, Sergio Garcia, and Pedro Rodriguez-Correa were arrested as they arrived at a pre-determined location in Polk County to deliver the illicit substances. Rodriguez-Correa, accompanied by a six-year-old child, was taken into custody, and the child was placed under the care of the Florida Department of Children & Families.

In addition to the arrests, law enforcement officials seized two vehicles used by the traffickers and a significant sum of cash. The successful operation underscores the relentless efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat the scourge of drug trafficking and protect communities from the devastating effects of narcotics.

Commenting on the bust, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody emphasized the importance of interdiction efforts in curbing the opioid crisis. “These interdiction efforts save lives,” she stated, “and while we continue to do everything we can here in Florida to stop the opioid crisis, the skyrocketing national overdose death toll will not slow down until [action is taken].”

The arrested individuals face a litany of charges, including trafficking fentanyl, maintaining vehicles for drug trafficking, resisting officers, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, one suspect remains at large, with law enforcement authorities actively seeking their apprehension.

As investigations continue and law enforcement agencies remain vigilant, the bust serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle against drug trafficking and the commitment of authorities to safeguard communities from the perils of illicit narcotics.



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Patrick Zarrelli

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