A seven-month investigation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, along with a few other agencies, resulted in 11 arrests and the seizure of 65 pounds of methamphetamine, authorities recently reported.
According to a Sept. 17 Orlando Sentinel article, the drugs were part of a drug trafficking scheme that went from Mexico and through Houston and Atlanta before arriving in Central Florida.
Deputies first learned of the local trafficking ring this spring. Led by Guadalupe Aguirre, 45, of Winter Haven, the trafficking organization distributed the drugs to several individuals to be sold. The meth that was seized during the drug bust is worth $5 million.
Police arrested Aguirre earlier this month while he was attempting to deliver 13.5 pounds of meth in Fort Meade; he had hidden the drugs in a five-gallon bucket in the back of his truck. Sheriff Grady Judd said the meth had been baked into pieces of commercially-packaged candy as a means of disguising it, The Ledger reported.
This arrest is just one of the 11 arrests made in relation to this trafficking ring since July, both in Polk County and elsewhere.
Police also seized $15,390 in cash, two vehicles and seven firearms from the Fort Meade home of suspect Jfelix Hilario-Escobar, 60.
Gilberto Cuevas Hernandez, 27, the alleged cook, is believed to have done the cooking — converting liquid meth to a crystal form — in front of three children aged seven to 10. Jimmy DiCaprio of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Tampa called the candy disguise that put children in jeopardy “ruthless” and “disgusting.”
Methamphetamines are illegal, highly-addictive stimulant opioids. Like the similar methadone, which originated in Germany in 1937, methamphetamines are highly subject to abuse and often result in addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that about 440,000 of the 1.2 million people who use methamphetamines per year abuse the drug.
Most of the suspects arrested in the bust have been charged with trafficking meth, conspiracy to traffic meth and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.