FL: 11 arrested, kilos of cocaine, fentanyl seized during multi-agency investigation

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says a multi-agency investigation led to the arrests of 11 people and the seizure of enough fentanyl to kill more than 1.7 million people.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the agency worked with federal, state and local partners to investigate two Central Florida drug trafficking rings, including the Espinosa & Romero Central Florida Drug Trafficking Organization and the Colon-Colon Drug Trafficking Organization.

Sheriff Judd says five people were arrested with the Espinosa & Romero Central Florida Drug Trafficking Organization.

According to PCSO, undercover detectives bought cocaine from 56-year-old Pedro Luis “Bemba” Romero of Kissimmee in November 2023. Deputies say he brought his drug supplier, 44-year-old Maximo Espinosa of Kissimmee, with him to the drug transaction.

Detectives say they learned that Espinosa was operating a drug trafficking organization that ran between the northeast United States, South Florida, Puerto Rico and Mexico trafficking kilo amounts of cocaine and fentanyl. Espinosa had previously been arrested federally for armed trafficking in heroin, according to PCSO.

According to PCSO, detectives arranged two other meetings in December and bought a sample of fentanyl and then purchased a kilo of fentanyl from Espinosa.

Another transaction for larger amounts of both cocaine and fentanyl was arranged with Espinosa and Romero to take place on January 2, 2024, at a location in Haines City, according to deputies.

That’s when detectives say they learned that Espinosa’s contacts would travel to Polk County to provide the fentanyl. During the evening hours of January 2, 2024, an undercover detective met with Espinosa; he showed the detective ten kilos of cocaine and two kilos of fentanyl in the trunk of his car. That’s when deputies working with other law enforcement partners, arrested Espinosa.

According to PCSO, suspected fentanyl suppliers 35-year-old Pedro Mejia of West Palm Beach, and 22-year-old Pedro Olivares of Wimauma were in another vehicle involved in the drug transaction.

During the arrests, PCSO says an undercover deputy’s leg was injured when a white BMW fled the area. The deputy was taken to an area hospital and treated and released.

PCSO says the fleeing BMW was visually tracked by aerial surveillance guiding law enforcement vehicles on the ground.

Deputies say the fleeing BMW was stopped with minimal damage and the driver, 34-year-old Omar Veloz of West Palm Beach, was taken into custody.

Detectives say they learned later on that Veloz and Mejia are on federal probation for trafficking narcotics.

Romero, who was in the area, was later arrested by officers with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Espinosa was taken into federal custody where he faces drug trafficking charges.

Veloz, Mejia, and Olivares were charged and booked into the Polk County Jail. Romero was booked into the Polk County Jail.

Detectives say they seized 12 kilograms of cocaine, 3.5 kilograms fentanyl powder and fentanyl pills, 2 firearms, a vehicle, and $4,450 in cash as a result of the investigation.

The agencies also worked together to arrest several people associated with the Colon-Colon drug trafficking organization.

Sheriff Judd says undercover detectives first arranged to buy cocaine from dealers associated with that group in December.

According to PCSO, an undercover detective initially met Luis Salcedo and 29-year-old Miguel Berdecia who arrived in a BMW sedan. While they were talking, deputies say, Roosevelt Colon-Colon and Julio Arroyo Rodriguez arrived in a pickup truck. Deputies say they had 1 kilo of cocaine with them.

During the conversation, detectives said 44-year-old Jazmine Colon, 47-year-old Omar Medina arrived in another vehicle with a 7-year-old girl who was in Jazmine Colon’s custody.

Sheriff’s deputies say they stopped all of the vehicles and arrested everyone except the child. According to PCSO, Julio Arroyo Rodriguez had a loaded 9mm handgun on him as he was taken into custody and Colon-Colon threw a 9mm handgun from his waistband on the floorboard of the truck just prior to being taken into custody.

Detectives say they seized more than two kilos of cocaine during the investigation, more than $8,000, and two firearms.

By FOX News Staff

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