Over 70 suspects charged in Florida drug bust


POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A nine-month investigation helped lead to the arrest of more than 70 suspects on drug charges in Florida.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, “Operation Hot Wire,” which began in September 2019, stemmed from a series of five violent, gang-related armed home invasions and the murder of 25-year-old Shay Collins in 2019.

The operation focused on the distribution of illegal drugs.

The sheriff’s office said detectives served 12 search warrants countywide and the investigation led to 74 suspects being charged with 711 felonies, and 11 drugs, including 30 grams of fentanyl, were seized. The total street value of the drugs was over $500,000.

Deputies said more than $50,000 in cash was seized and several firearms, some being stolen and some illegally possessed, were also found.

Of the 74 suspects, 68 have been arrested and six other suspects have warrants for their arrests. Deputies said two of the suspects are in the country illegally, and 22 suspects have been to state prison before.

The suspects charged in this investigation have a combined total of 1,320 previous arrests.

Five armed home invasion robberies so far have been linked to suspects arrested during the investigation, according to Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

“People from all over Polk County were negatively impacted by what these criminals did,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “Communities and families were exposed to violence, loved-ones were tortured by drug addiction, and at least two people that we know of died from overdoses of fatal mixtures of heroin and fentanyl purchased from these suspects. With these arrests, lives will be saved.”

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