Florida bust: 85 arrested, $12.8M in drugs seized

Southeast

(NewsNation) — Florida authorities say 85 people were arrested in connection to an international drug trafficking ring in Polk County.

Police say they seized:

  • 268 pounds of Methamphetamine ($9,725,040 street value)
  • 31 pounds of Cocaine ($1,405,337 street value)
  • 180 pounds of Cannabis ($1,628,357 street value)
  • 3.4 pounds of MDMA (Ecstasy) ($84,601 street value)
  • 6.8 ounces of Fentanyl ($26,880 street value)
  • 68 Xanax pills              
  • 173 Oxycodone pills                         
  • 49 firearms
  • 3 non-active grenades
  • 2 bulletproof vests 
  • 1 stolen motorcycle 
  • $235,000 cash

Altogether, Poke County Sheriff’s Office said, the street value of drugs confiscated is over $12.8 Million.

The investigation started in Sept. 2020, according to a Thursday news release from the Polk County Sherriff’s Office.

NewsNation local affiliate WFLA said one of the suspects, Demarcus Terrell Jefferson, crashed his car into a gas station, killing a customer inside. When police investigated the crash, they got word that Jefferson and some family members helped smuggle large amounts of meth through airports in checked luggage.

Undercover detectives made multiple drug purchases at his home. They learned one of Jefferson’s brothers’ died of a fentanyl and Xanax overdose at the residence, WFLA said.

Detectives continued making undercover narcotics purchases from dealers in the area, and in Feb. 2022, they began a wiretap investigation. As a result of the investigation, 85 people were charged with 355 felonies and 93 misdemeanors.

Investigators said suspects smuggled large amounts of illegal narcotics from Mexico into Los Angeles, before transporting them via domestic flights from Tennessee to Florida.

“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 in a statement.

NewsNation local affiliate WFLA contributed to this story.

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