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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wood, Donna

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 3/31/2010 

 PCSO Dismantles Drug Trafficking Organization 


Polk County Sheriff’s Office organized crime and narcotics detectives, along with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, (DEA/Tampa) working in conjunction with the Office of Statewide Prosecution, conducted 11 search warrants, seized 128.5 pounds of ICE (Crystal Methamphetamine), 16.5 Kilograms (36.3 pounds) of Cocaine, 15 vehicles, approximately $533,450.00 in US Currency and arrested 21 suspects in a nearly 4-month long wire tap investigation.  The estimated street value of the seized drugs is $15 million.

Detectives received information that identified a supplier of bulk quantities for Crystal Methamphetamine, or ICE, who lived in Polk County.

A state ordered wire intercept was obtained.  Detectives and agents intercepted 13 phones in a nearly four-month period and learned that 30-year-old Erick Chavez, DOB 09/11/1979, 1871 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales, and members of his family were importing drugs from Mexico.  The drugs were then being distributed to wholesale dealers throughout the southeastern United States.  These wholesale dealers would deal in multiple ounces and pounds of Methamphetamine and Cocaine.  

On Tuesday, March 30, 2010, detectives and agents served 11 search warrants and arrested 16 suspects, all connected to Chavez. 

“This is a sophisticated, violent and determined drug trafficking organization that imports high purity Methamphetamine into the US,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.  “We’ve identified key players in this organization, and stopped them.  I am proud of the hard work and dedication that each detective, officer, and agent put into this investigation.”

 In January 2010, detectives received information that 33-year-old Gabriel Cortes, 1640 S.W. 4th Street, Homestead (a Mexican National) was enroute to meet Chavez.  Deputies stopped Cortes as he was driving southbound on Highway 27.  A drug detection K-9 alerted to the presence of drugs inside the white, 1996 Chevrolet van Cortes was driving.  Detectives found four plastic containers wrapped in duct tape hidden under wooden paneling below the rear passenger side window.  The contents tested positive for Methamphetamine.  A total of 4 pounds was seized.  A handgun was also found in the van.  There were several children in the van at the time of Cortes’ arrest.  Cortes was charged with Armed Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Driving with a Suspended License.  He remains in Polk County Jail.

Through further investigation, detectives learned that Erick Chavez received drugs from various sources in Mexico, and from his brother, 23-year-old Homar Chavez, DOB 12/21/1986, 148 N. Lake Reedy Boulevard, Frostproof.  The investigation revealed that Homar received his shipments directly from sources in Mexico.  Homar also distributed to local wholesale dealers. 

Both men were being counseled by their father, 56-year-old Crisantos Chavez, DOB 10/25/1953, last known address of 118 Brooks Road, Frostproof.  The elder Chavez is currently a wanted fugitive from justice believed to be living near Morelia, Mexico.  He has open Polk County Warrants for Armed Trafficking in Cocaine and Methamphetamine. 

Crisantos Chavez was arrested in 2006 by the PCSO on the Armed Trafficking charges.  At that time, deputies seized 5 Kilos of Cocaine, 2 pounds of ICE, $30, 000.00, 2 SKS rifles and a Mac 10 machine gun.  He bonded out of jail and fled to Mexico.

The family organization also includes a third son, 31-year-old Natalio Chavez, DOB 08/08/1978, 4300 Dinner Lake Drive, Lake Wales.  Natialio is currently wanted in connection with this investigation.

In late January, detectives learned of a drug courier, who was attempting to smuggle another shipment into the United States. Border Patrol Officers discovered approximately 9.7 kilograms, or nearly 22 pounds, of Methamphetamine in a hidden compartment of the vehicle being driven across the border. 

Other drug interceptions occurred in Florida during February and March.  With the assistance of multiple agencies in multiple jurisdictions, PCSO detectives and DEA agents working with local law enforcement agencies (Florida Highway Patrol, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Hardee County Sheriff’s Office, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, and Lakeland Police Department) were able to intercept the following:

  • January 11, 2010 – 4 pounds of Methamphetamine intercepted in Polk County originating from Homestead, Florida
  • January 27, 2010 - Border Patrol intercepts 22 pounds of Methamphetamine
  • February 1, 2010 - 6 Kilograms (13.2 pounds) of Cocaine, and an estimated $89,000.00 in US currency seized in Hardee County
  • February 22, 2010 - 31 pounds of liquid Methamphetamine, approximately 14.4 liters, disguised in Corona Beer bottles intercepted in Osceola County
  • February 25, 2010 - 10 pounds of Methamphetamine and an estimated $267,950.00 in US currency seized in Gwinnett County, Georgia by DEA agents
  • March 6, 2010 - 12.5 pounds of Methamphetamine intercepted in Sumter County– by Florida Highway Patrol Officers 
  • March 14, 2010 - 23 pounds of Methamphetamine intercepted in Okeechobee County

On Tuesday, March 30, 3010, 11 search warrants were served at the following locations:

  • 1849 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales
  • 1871 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales
  • 148 N. Lake Reedy Boulevard, Frostproof
  • 104 7th Place, Frostproof
  • 6141 Avocado Drive SW, Lake Wales
  • 4719 Wales Street, Lake Wales
  • 129 North Drive, Lot 94, Lake Wales
  • 105 Mulberry Street, Lake Wales
  • 151 Valencia Street, Frostproof
  • 118 Brooks Road, Frostproof
  • 4300 Dinner Lake Drive, Lake Wales 

Detectives seized:

  • An estimated $175,000.00 in cash
  • Approximately 26 pounds of Methamphetamine
  • ½ Kilo of Cocaine
  • 8 Firearms, 2 of which were SKS Rifles
  • 14 Vehicles
  • 1 Motorcycle

The following suspects were arrested on Tuesday, March 30, 2010:

 Erick Chavez DOB 09/11/1979, 1871 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales - Bond: $3 Million

Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Cocaine 400 Grams or More - (F1)

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or More - (F1)

Homar Chavez DOB 12/21/1986, 148 N. Lake Reedy Boulevard, Frostproof - Bond: $5 Million

Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Cocaine 400 Grams or More - (F1)

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or More - (F1)  

Morgan Wilson DOB 01/25/1990, 1871 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales - Bond $1 Million

            Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or More - (F1)            

Antonio Castillo, Sr. DOB 07/30/1960, 105 N. Mulberry Street, Lake Wales - Bond: $1 Million

            Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Cocaine 28 Grams or more - (F1) 2 CTs 

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or more - (F1)

Trafficking in Methamphetamine 14 Grams or more - (F1) 3 CTS

Trafficking in Methamphetamine 28 Grams or more - (F1)

Trafficking in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or more – (F1)

Sale of Cannabis – (F3)

Conspiracy to Sell Cannabis – (F3) 

Jose Arriaga DOB 05/28/1980, 1849 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales - Bond: No Bond

Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or more – (F1)

Armed Trafficking in Methamphetamine over 400 Grams (F1)

            Armed Trafficking in Cocaine - 28 Grams Less than 150 KG Cocaine or Mixture – (F1)        

            Use Display ETC Firearm During a Felony – (F2)

            Maintaining a Dwelling for Drug Use/Sale – (F3)

            Possession of Drug paraphernalia – (M1)             

Evan Langford DOB 09/10/1983, 5151 Valencia Street, Lake Wales - Bond: $500,000.00

Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or more – (F1)

Possession of Methamphetamine – (F3)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – (M1)

Maintaining a Dwelling for Drug Use/Sale – (F3)  

Rodrigo Borja “La Comba,” DOB 03/25/80, 4719 Wales Street, Lake Wales - Bond: $500,000.00

Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or more – (F1)            

David Eric Nobles DOB 09/03/1979, 129 North Drive, Lake Wales - Bond: $1 Million

Charged with: Charged with Conspiracy to Traffic in Cocaine 400 Grams or More – (F1)

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or More – (F1) 

Alberto Escobar DOB 03/29/1974, 2145 Hutchins Road, Fort Meade - Bond: $1.5 Million

            Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or More – (F1) 

Amelia Linamen DOB 12/07/1982, 1849 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales - Bond: $500,000.00

            Charged with: Trafficking Methamphetamine over 400 Grams - (F1)

Trafficking in Cocaine 28 Grams less than 150 KG or Mixture – (F1)

Maintaining a Dwelling for Drug Use/Sale - (F3)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia - (M1) 

Antonio Castillo Jr. DOB 02/06/1982, 105 North Mulberry St, Lake Wales - Bond: $500,000.00

            Charged with: Possession of Methamphetamine - (F3)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – (M1)

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 14 Grams or More - (F1) 

Marcel Roman DOB 09/04/1983, 118 Brooks Road, Frostproof - Bond: $500,000.00

Charged with: Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 14 Grams or More - (F1) 

Cale Hebel DOB 09/17/1986, 1871 Cypress Lake Road, Lake Wales - Bond: $500,000.00

            Charged with: Possession of Marijuana – (M1)

            Cultivation of Marijuana - (F3)

            Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – (M1)

            Possession of Prescribe Medication W/O Prescription - (F3) 

Willie Levens DOB 09/16/1979, 6141 Avocado Dr, Indian Lake Estates - Bond: $500,000.00

Charged with: Possession of Cannabis Under 20 Grams – (M1)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – (M1)

Trafficking in Methamphetamine Over 200 Grams – (F1)

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine – (F3) 

Juan Carlos Castillo DOB 12/06/1986, 6141 Avocado Dr, Indian Lake Estates - Bond: $500,000.00

Charged with: Armed Trafficking in Methamphetamine Over 200 Grams – (F1)

Maintaining a Dwelling for Drug Use/Sale - (F3)

Possession of Cannabis Under 20 Grams – (M1)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – (M1)

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or More - (F1)           

Victor Salazar DOB 12/28/1986, 6141 Avocado Dr, Indian Lake Estates - Bond: $500,000.00

Charged with: Possession of Cannabis Under 20 Grams – (M1)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – (M1)

Conspiracy to Traffic in Methamphetamine 200 Grams or More - (F1) 

Wanted for Conspiracy to Traffic Methamphetamine and Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine:

31-year-old Natialio Chavez DOB 08/08/1978, 4719 Wales Street, Lake Wales  

Wanted for Conspiracy to Traffic Methamphetamine

27-year-old Margarita Avellandeda, DOB 02/09/1983, 118 Brooks Road, Frostproof 

Wanted for Conspiracy to Traffic Methamphetamine

21-year-old Tony Alvarado DOB 05/02/1989, 104 7th Place, Frostproof 

Wanted for Armed Trafficking in Cocaine and Methamphetamine

56-year-old Crisantos Chavez, DOB 10/25/1953, last known address of 118 Brooks Road, Frostproof   

Per Florida State Statute 893.135, the minimum mandatory sentencing for Trafficking in Methamphetamine is as follows: 

14-28 Grams                3 years

28-200 Grams              7 years

200 or More Grams     15 years

Previously arrested:

January 11, 2010 - 33-year-old Gabriel Cortes, 1640 S.W. 4th Street, Homestead - charged with Armed Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Driving with a Suspended License.  Arrested in Polk County

February 1, 2010 – 39-year-old Hector Bravo DOB 04/27/1971, 5003 West Central Avenue, Bowling Green – charged with Trafficking in Cocaine.  Arrested in Hardee County

February 22, 2010 - 43-year-old Bernardo Rodriguez DOB 08/20/1967, Atlanta Georgia – charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine – Arrested in Osceola County

March 6, 2010 – 20-year-old Raul Flores, Jr. DOB 03/01/1990, Texas - charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine – Arrested in Sumter County

March 14, 2010 – 47-year-old Rafela Herta-Aranda DOB 01/20/1963, 711 NW 21st Lane, Okeechobee – charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine – arrested in Okeechobee County

This is an ongoing investigation.