POLK COUNTY —A national investigation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, one which culminated with arrests and drug seizures on Thanksgiving Day, has taken 139 pounds of methamphetamine and 10 pounds of heroin off the streets.
PCSO staff estimate the street value of the drugs seized to be more than $9 million when taking into account how the drugs are generally cut, diluted and distributed.
“This is the single largest seizure of heroin in the history of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office — and that was on Thanksgiving Day,” Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference Dec. 2. “Our folks from our undercover units saved a lot of lives seizing this much heroin.”
In total, seven individuals were arrested as part of the investigation.
The investigation involved criminal drug operations in California, Illinois and Texas. Its origins date back to April of this year, when PCSO narcotics detectives obtained information about methamphetamines being sold out of southern California into, among other places, Polk County.
Over time, undercover detectives orchestrated drug buys via mail and then, on Aug. 1, a sting operation in Bloomington, Cal., involving a PCSO detective and the Inland Crackdown Allied Taskforce in California resulted in the arrests of two men, Albaro Armando Carillo Jr. and Juan Tafolla-Navarrete — both of whom are not United States citizens.
That investigation in turn led to information that uncovered operations in Chicago and Houston.
On Nov. 26, an undercover detective for PCSO arranged to have a heroin trafficker from Chicago deliver to Polk County.
On Nov. 28, the trafficker, identified as Francisco Reyna-Duran, was joined by a woman, identified as Susana Salgado-Solis, at the arranged sale location in unincorporated Winter Haven. PCSO staff say Salgado-Solid drove the drugs from Chicago to Polk — Reyna-Duran flew separately — and brought her two children, ages 5 and 6, with her. The children, who did not come to the transaction site, were later located and taken into custody by DCF.
Both Reyan-Duran and Salgado-Solid were arrested Nov. 28. A total of 3.25 kilos of heroin were recovered during the arrest.
Similarly, an undercover detective arranged for a purchase of a kilo of heroin from traffickers in Houston in Lakeland, also on the morning of Nov. 28. Julio Cesar Don Juan and another man, Rene Don Juan-Gonzalez arrived at the meet and arrested after the sale took place.
A seventh person, Armando Fernandez, was arrested at the hotel where Salgado-Solis’ children were located.
“We’re in the top end of drug dealing whenever you’re dealing in kilos of heroin,” Judd said during the press conference. “We dealt with an international (crime) ring and I’m proud to say that, in this state and in this county, we hold people accountable. Heck, we’ll even come out on Thanksgiving and arrest you because it’s that important.”