Polk County’s Largest Wiretap Investigation

August 27, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, News & Announcements

The largest single wiretap investigation just busted a massive amount of drugs in Polk County. In total, 85 people were arrested, and the drugs recovered value to over $12 million. The investigation began in 2020 and has now successfully been solved with the help of both local and federal authorities.

We will cover the details of the case and how the drug smuggling from LAX to Orlando International Airport was finally busted.

What was the Case?

The investigation began in September 2020, when 32-year-old Demarcus Jefferson crashed into a gas station in Winter Haven, Florida. One person died from the crash. Based on the surveillance video from the gas station, a group of people in masks ran up to the totaled vehicle and unloaded items from the trunk before the police could arrive at the scene. Police believed that they were taking out drugs before the authorities could find them.

A witness of the crash, Matt Murphy told FOX 13 that he saw an SUV show up, and the driver taking everything out of the wrecked car and putting it into the SUV. “As soon as the first sheriff’s office deputies showed up, the SUV took off,” Murphy said.

While police were investigating the gas station crash, they got word that Jefferson and other members of his family were involved in smuggling large amounts of methamphetamine from California to Florida through checked luggage on domestic flights.

This led to an investigation involving undercover detectives making multiple drug purchases at Jefferson’s home in Winter Haven. Police found out that Demarcus’ brother Devontae had died six months earlier from a Fentanyl overdose, but the family continued to sell drugs.

A search warrant was issued, and detectives seized a pound of methamphetamine while still making regular purchases from other drug dealers in the area. The sheriff’s office began working together with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies across the U.S. in February 2022 to start a wiretap investigation.

Through the investigation, the authorities gained information that large amounts of drugs were being transported from Mexico to California, then transported on domestic flights from Los Angeles to Memphis, Tennessee. After that, the drugs were sent to Orlando International Airport. From the airport, the smuggled drugs were transported on the ground to Polk County.

“We bought and made predicate cases for the wiretap throughout the two ensuing years, but we couldn’t get the top and link the organization together,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a press conference. “This was a very different kind of operation. If you look at our org chart here, you’ll notice that there are three distinct groups of people.”

At the end of the investigation, there were a total of 85 people arrested in the drug bust. There were 49 firearms and “all kinds of other assorted drugs and pills.” In total, the bust was valued at $12.8 million.

“On one occasion on one airline, six suitcases with drugs were smuggled into Orlando,” Judd said. “They didn’t so much as throw a pair of underwear in the suitcase to act like they were hiding the drugs. You think LAX just got a drug smuggling problem at the airport? I believe that they do, and they need to address it ASAP.”

Complete List of Drugs Seized

The confiscated drugs from the bust were valued at over $12.8 million. The detectives used 14 search warrants throughout Auburndale, Davenport, Polk City, Lake Wales, Winter Haven, and Riverview. There were also warrants in Fresno, California as well. The following is a list of the drugs seized in the bust, along with their street value:

  • 268 pounds of Methamphetamine ($9,725,040)
  • 31 pounds of Cocaine ($1,405,337)
  • 180 pounds of Marijuana ($1,628,357)
  • 4 pounds of MDMA/Ecstasy ($84,601)
  • 8 ounces of Fentanyl ($26,880)
  • 68 Alprazolam (Xanax) pills
  • 173 Oxycodone pills
  • 49 Firearms
  • 3 Non-active Grenades
  • 2 Bulletproof Vests
  • 1 Stolen Motorcycle
  • $235,000 in cash

Drug Charges in Florida

Florida is very strict on its drug charges. There is a large variety of drug charges that can range from misdemeanors to serious felonies. The following is a list of potential drug charges in Florida:

To find out about the various drug charges, their penalties, and Florida’s drug schedule, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a drug crime, you should seek out the help of a skilled defense attorney in your area. A guilty conviction can lead to harsh consequences such as expensive fines and imprisonment. An experienced attorney can help you build a strong defense to your case, and the team at Pumphrey Law Firm vows to stand by your side throughout the entire legal process. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

Written by Karissa Key

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