During a seven-month long investigation, Polk County Sheriff’s Office undercover detectives, working with the Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, Task Force detectives, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Tampa Office, the Florida Attorney General’s Office of State Wide Prosecution, and the State Attorney’s Office of the 10th Judicial Circuit, arrested 11 suspects, seized 65 pounds of Methamphetamine, seized $15,390 in US currency, seized two vehicles, and seven firearms all in connection to a Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization.
“Simply put, Meth is the most destructive illegal drug on the streets in central Florida. It ruins lives, destroys families, and drives up property crime. In order to make money without having an honest job, these drug traffickers are ruining the lives of hundreds of people.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
During the spring of 2015, PCSO detectives received information about a drug trafficking organization operating in central Florida with ties to Mexico. Detectives learned large amounts of methamphetamine were being moved from Mexico to the United States, often through Houston Texas and Atlanta Georgia, and then to central Florida, with trafficking amounts being supplied to customers of the organization in Polk County.
As the investigation progressed, 45-year-old Guadalupe Aguirre, DOB 03/10/1970, 816 Indian Bluff, Winter Haven, was identified as head of the illegal trafficking organization here in Florida. Detectives learned Aguirre would receive meth shipments directly from Mexico, then employed several other people to distribute the drugs. Those people were:
Cruz Vergara-Cavillo DOB 5/3/78, 1236 Martin Luther King Jr. Place, Palmetto
Jfelix Hilario-Escobar, DOB 08/14/1955, 2415 Hutchins Road, Lot 67, Fort Meade
Melanie Bengoa-Torres DOB 9/19/1995, 12101 Sterling University Lane, Orlando
Aguirre also used couriers and sold directly to customers.
In early July 2015, Central Florida HIDTA detectives and DEA agents seized 20 pounds of meth from a Bradenton residence. The drug was disguised as commercially packaged Mexican candy with pieces individually wrapped in the form of colorful suckers and hard candy pieces. Detectives and agents arrested 41-year-old Jesus Casteyano-Andrade (aka Castellano-Andrade), DOB 01/01/1974. Casteyano was charged with Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams of Methamphetamine by the US Attorney’s Office, Middle District. Andrade was a courier for the organization. (This case made Bradenton news on July 9, 2015.)
Also during July, detectives learned two subjects, 26-year-old Marcos Acuna, DOB 8/9/1989, 3601 Baker Dairy Road, Haines City, and 23-year-old Gelacio Albarran, DOB 01/02/1992, also, of 3601 Baker Dairy Road, were scheduled to transport 2.5 pounds of meth, supplied by Vergara-Cavillo. Detectives were able to intercept the shipment in Haines City and arrested Acuna and Albarran. Acuna was charged with Possession of a Structure/Vehicle for Drug Use, DWLSR, Trafficking in Methamphetamine over 200 grams, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Albarran was charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Possession of Paraphernalia.
In Sumter County, on August 14, 2015, Florida Highway Patrol Officers intercepted 2.5 pounds of meth from a courier, Mirna DeCastillo, DOB 10/13/1964, 6854 Windfaire Drive, Norcross, Georgia, as she traveled from Atlanta to central Florida. DeCastillo was charged with Own/Rent Structure-Vehicle for Drug Use, Trafficking in Methamphetamine over 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Traffic over 200 Grams, and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device, and booked into the Sumter County jail.
Soon after DeCastillo’s arrest, detectives learned a residence in Lake Wales was operating as a “stash house” for the organization. On August 19th, detectives executed a search warrant at the residence where 25.5 pounds of meth was discovered. When detectives arrived, a young child was located in the residence. Detectives arrested 27-year-old Gilberto Cuevas Hernandez, and 31-year-old Rachel Rodriguez.
Detectives learned Hernandez’s role in the organization was that of “cook.” Hernandez was converting the drug from liquid methamphetamine into crystal form. The child present during the search of the residence, along with two other children, had been present when the “cooking” process was being done. The children were between seven and 10 years of age. Hernandez was charged with Trafficking in Amphetamine over 200 grams, four counts of Negligent Child Abuse without Bodily Harm, and Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Rodriguez was charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Manufacturing Methamphetamine and Negligent Child Abuse. They were booked into the Polk County Jail. (Per FL State Statute 119, the address or any information which may identify the child victims is confidential.)
On September 1, 2015, detectives executed a search warrant at Hilario-Escobar’s Fort Meade residence where a pound of meth and $15,390 in cash was located. Escobar was charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device.
Detectives learned Escobar was expecting a delivery and detectives were able to intercept Guadalupe Aguirre as he was traveling to Fort Meade to make the transaction. Detectives discovered 13.5 pounds of meth concealed in a blue five gallon bucket in the bed of Aguirre’s truck. Aguirre was charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine over 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Traffic over 200 Grams, and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device.
On September 16, 2015, detectives arrested Cruz Bergara-Cavillo DOB 5/3/78 – 1236 Martin Luther King Jr. Place, Palmetto, charging him with Trafficking in Methamphetamine over 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Traffic over 200 Grams, and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device.
Also arrested were:
Melanie Bengoa-Torres DOB 9/19/1995 – 12101 Sterling University Lane, Orlando, charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine over 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Traffic over 200 Grams, and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device.
Dustin Scott Pineda DOB 12/21/1990 – 3309 Rooks Road, Davenport, charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine over 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Traffic over 200 Grams, and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device. Pineda is an associate of Bengoa-Torres.
Aguirre is a resident alien and receives federal assistance and is unemployed – he has been in the Polk County jail three times previously. His previous criminal arrests include DWLSR, two separate DUI arrests, Conceal Firearm, and Disorderly Intoxication. Detectives located four rifles and two handguns at Aguirre’s residence.
Vergara-Cavillo is in the US illegally and is unemployed. He has one prior arrest; No Valid Driver License.
Hilario-Escobar is in the US illegally and is unemployed.
Bengoa-Torres is unemployed.
Caseyano is in the US illegally and is unemployed – he has six previous felony charges of Aggravated Battery with Motor Vehicle, and four misdemeanors arrest charges. His arrests were not in Polk County.
Acuna is in the US illegally and is unemployed.
Albarran is in the US illegally and is unemployed.
Morales-DeCastillo is in the US illegally and is unemployed.
Hernandez is in the US illegally and is unemployed. Detectives located a rifle at this residence.
Rodriguez receives federal assistance and is unemployed. She has been in the Polk County jail four times previously. Her arrest charges include Operating a Vehicle without a License, False info to LEO, Larceny, Grand Theft Auto, Petit Theft, and VOP.
Pineda is unemployed. He has been in the Polk County jail five times previously. His arrest charges include Criminal Mischief, Resisting LEO, Disorderly Intoxication, Possession of Hydrocodone (2 counts), and multiple drug related arrests to include Felony Possession of Cannabis, and Possession with Intent to Sell, DUI, Disorderly Conduct, and DWLSR.
*The street value of 65 pounds of meth is approximately $5,000,000.