85 people arrested after authorities seized $12.8 million worth of illegal substances in a California-Florida drug flight scheme

BARTOW, Fla. — Investigators said on Friday that 85 individuals have been taken into custody and millions of dollars’ worth of illegal substances have been confiscated in a smuggling operation from California to Florida that used checked luggage on commercial flights.

According to Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, the smugglers concealed the drugs in bags on flights from Los Angeles to Orlando. During one search, six pieces of baggage carrying just cocaine were seized, he added.

“They didn’t even put so much as a pair of underwear in there to hide it,” said Judd.

In a case that was focused on drug trafficking in the region of Winter Haven, Florida, authorities reported that 85 people were arrested and charged with a combined total of 355 felonies and 93 misdemeanors.

Drugs including methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, fentanyl, oxycodone, and Xanax were estimated to have a street value of around $12.8 million. Additionally, 49 firearms and $235,000 were seized.

Judd said that this was the most in-depth investigation involving a wiretap in Polk County’s history.

“It’s anything other than low-level and nonviolent. The whole time they were peddling poison to your kids,” the sheriff said.

Jordan Collins

Jordan is an experienced editor with years in the journalism and reporting industry. He loves talking with the community about the problems local residents face and state politics. You can find him in the gym almost every day or see him jogging.

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