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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 3/23/2017 

 Four Suspects Arrested During Follow-Up Meth Trafficking Investigation 


A joint Methamphetamine drug trafficking investigation between Polk County Sheriff's Office High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA), the Florida Highway Patrol Criminal Interdiction Unit, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the Marion County Sheriff's Office HIDTA Task Force, Office of State Attorney Brian Haas (10th Judicial Circuit), and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's Office of Statewide Prosecution, resulted in the arrests of four suspects and the seizure of 32 pounds of Methamphetamines, $5,000 in U.S. currency, two firearms, and marijuana.  

"Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug, that is seriously harming our communities and our citizens. Those who deal in Meth and illegal narcotics need to be dealt with swiftly and severely. One of the suspects arrested during this investigation, Juan Mendoza-Tavira, is here in the country illegally, dealing in Meth. Drug traffickers who are here illegally need to be removed from this country as soon as possible." - Grady Judd, Sheriff 

According to the affidavits, the investigation began in January 2017 when PCSO received information that 35-year-old Daniel Tavira Santander was back in Polk County distributing large amounts of Meth. Daniel was previously arrested in April 2015 with several other suspects by PCSO during "Operation Déjà vu," for trafficking in Meth. He was released after posting bond and has been out of jail since that time.   

Detectives recently learned Daniel was living in Auburndale but had a house in Ocala where he was storing Meth to avoid detection by Polk County law enforcement.  

PCSO detectives began surveillance on Daniel and his associates, two of whom were positively identified as brothers, 34-year-old Joseph Cruey and 35-year-old Jackie Cruey 

On March 8, 2017, PCSO detectives received information that the Cruey brothers were en-route from Texas back to Polk County with a large amount of Meth.  

On March 9, 2017, FHP Troopers conducted a traffic stop based on a PCSO BOLO (be on look out) near Lake City (Columbia County) on a Ford F-150 occupied by the Cruey brothers. Within the truck they found 32 pounds of Meth concealed in the tool box in the bed of the truck, and two loaded handguns in the cab, along with a small amount of marijuana.  

The Cruey brothers were booked in to the Columbia County Jail and charged with:  

  • Possession of Firearm During Commission of Felony (Life)
  • Trafficking in Meth (F-1)
  • Conspiracy to Traffic in Meth (F-1)
  • Distribution of Meth (F-3)
  • Smuggling Controlled Substance Across State Lines (F-2)
  • Possession of Marijuana (M-1)
  • Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1) 

Jackie Cruey was additionally charged with one count Driving While License Suspended/Revoked. His criminal history includes prior arrests for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, culpable negligence, felony drug charges, cultivation of marijuana, battery domestic violence, carrying concealed weapon, and DWLSR. Joseph Cruey's criminal history includes a prior arrest for assault.  

On March 9, 2017, PCSO detectives conducted a traffic stop on a Jeep Cherokee occupied by 31-year-old Juan Mendoza-Tavira. Inside, they located a 5-gallon paint bucket with ½ pound of Meth submerged in paint, and approximately $5,000 in U.S. currency. Juan is a known associate and distributor of Meth with Daniel, and Juan is in the country illegally. 

Juan was booked in to the Polk County Jail and charged with: 

  • Trafficking in Meth (F-1)
  • Conspiracy to Traffic in Meth (F-1)
  • Possession of Structure to Sell Controlled Substance (F-2)
  • Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1) 

Juan is currently being held on an ICE/Department of Homeland Security hold. 

On March 10, 2017, PCSO and Marion County Sheriff's detectives arrested Juan's associate, Daniel Tavira Santander at his house located at 5731 SE 33rd Court in Ocala.  

Daniel was booked into the Marion County Jail and later transferred to the Polk County Jail and charged with: 

  • Conspiracy to Traffic in Meth (F-1)

He's being held on a NEBBIA Hold.  

Daniel's arrest history includes prior arrests for: vehicle theft, vehicle burglary, robbery, carrying concealed firearm, possession of a weapon by a minor, failure to appear, fraud, DWLSR, felony drug charges, felony weapons charges, aggravated assault, violation of probation, battery domestic violence, DUI. 

Background; Operation Hoodoo Voodoo:  

In March 2014 detectives identified 25 suspects involved in an organized drug trafficking enterprise through extensive investigation.  The investigation identified the organization's source of methamphetamine supply as Javier Flores, aka: "El Don."  Flores resided in southern California and managed large scale methamphetamine shipments to Lakeland, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada through southern California from Mexico.  The organization included a network of couriers, managers, distributors and customers.  It was also learned that the targets of that investigation consulted a Voodoo priest who would provide predictions, prophecies and readings regarding the organization's decisions and welfare.  

In total, The Polk County Sheriff's Office High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Task Force seized 106 firearms, approximately 43 pounds of Methamphetamine (19,504.5 grams), $334,404.00 US currency, 6 ballistic vests, 7 vehicles, a four wheeler, lawn equipment and made 26 arrests.    

During post arrest interviews of the suspects, it was learned that "El Don" also supplied methamphetamine to a Hispanic male living in Polk County, Florida, who was subsequently identified as Christopher Lynn Trejo (DOB: 12/14/1982). Detectives consequently began looking into Trejo's illicit activities and initiated Operation Déjà vu. 

Operation Déjà vu:  

After developing intelligence information that indicated Christopher Lynn Trejo was the head of a large scale drug trafficking organization (DTO) based out of Polk County, Florida, detectives with the Polk County Sheriff's Office High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA) and the above mentioned agencies began an extensive investigation into the Trejo DTO. During the investigation, it was learned that Dawn Hulett and Billy Ray Monday of Lake Wales, Florida, as well as other co-conspirators were being supplied trafficking amounts of methamphetamine from Trejo.  Hulett and Monday were distributing methamphetamine out of their residence located at 7637 Coral Gables Drive, Lake Wales, Florida. Through subsequent investigation, detectives identified multiple other suspects and co-conspirators linked to Trejo, including Daniel Tavira Santander, from sources of supply (from whom he obtained methamphetamine), to those to whom he sold methamphetamine.   

On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, Polk County Sheriff's Office High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Task Force detectives and the detectives from the above mentioned law enforcement agencies, served nine search warrants in Polk and Hillsborough Counties, and arrested 15 suspects who were involved in the Trejo DTO.  An additional suspect (1) was arrested Thursday, three on Friday, April 17, 2015, and three suspects were arrested previously during the investigation (total of 22 arrested during the months long investigation). 2 ½ pounds of marijuana was also seized. 

In total, detectives seized approximately $92,000 (currency), 30 pounds of methamphetamine, 2 ½ pounds of marijuana, 7 vehicles, 72 firearms, and obtained 22 arrest warrants, executed 9 search warrants, and arrested 22 suspects. The approximate street value of the methamphetamine is $1,362,000.  

Between the two investigations (Hoodoo Voodoo and Déjà vu), a combined total of 74 pounds of methamphetamine, with a street value of $3,258,000 was seized.