How Florida deputies seized $9.5 million in meth and heroin, and arrested 7 people

Michelle Marchante

A Florida undercover drug investigation has led to seven arrests across three states and the recovery of about $9.5 million dollars in meth and heroin.

Operation Trifecta began in April when Polk County investigators received 7 pounds of meth from Los Angeles. Those 7 pounds later led deputies to brothers Albaro Armando Carillo Jr., 34, and Jose Juan Tafolla-Navarrete, 30, in southern California, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Deputies, working with California authorities, arrested the brothers and seized a combined 139 pounds of “Mexican Methamphetamine,” which has a street value of approximately $4.6 million, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

During the meth trafficking investigation, Polk investigators learned about other traffickers who were attempting to bring heroin into Central Florida, Judd said.

“There is a market for drugs like there is a stock market for illegal enterprise of money,” Judd said to a group of reporters during a news conference Monday.

Operation Trifecta, an eighth-month long operation, took approximately $9.5 million dollars worth of meth and heroine off the streets, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The first heroin traffickers were Francisco Reyna-Duran, 38, and Susana Salgado-Solis, 25, of Chicago.

“They told us ‘we want to open a pipeline into Central Florida’,” Judd said. Polk deputies “were operating really high up in our undercover capacity and they thought they had struck gold.”

Reyna-Duran flew to Florida to speak with who he believed was a drug dealer. In reality, it was an undercover Polk deputy who arranged to have a multi-kilogram shipment arrive in Polk County by Thanksgiving.

Salgado-Solis drove the shipment to Florida, her children in the backseat. When the Chicago pair arrived to an “undercover location” near Winter Haven, with about 3.25 kilos of pure heroin in an older model Chrysler minivan, they were arrested.

Salgado-Solis’s 5- and 6-year-old kids, who she had left at a hotel in the area, were taken into the custody of Florida’s Department of Children and Families.

The 41-year-old man with them was “uncooperative” and called 911 to state the children — who were in good health —were having a medical episode and needed an ambulance, according to the sheriff’s office. He was arrested for misusing the 911 system.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office seized 5 1/2 kilos of heroin during Operation Trifecta, the largest heroin seizure in Polk County.

Those weren’t the only drug traffickers Polk deputies arrested on Thanksgiving.

“You chose to eat turkey,” Judd joked. “We chose to seize dope.”

Julio Cesar Don Juan, 34 and his brother Rene Don Juan-Gonzalez, 32, of Texas were also arrested after meeting with an undercover Polk detective at a Walmart in North Lakeland, Judd said.

A total of 5 1/2 kilos of heroin, which has a street value of $4.9 million, was recovered during the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. Judd said its the largest heroin seizure ever by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The approximately eighth-month long operation took about $9.5 million dollars worth of meth and heroin off the streets, Judd said. He believes those drugs would have eventually made their way to Polk County before spreading to the rest of Florida.

“These are extraordinarily dangerous illegal drugs, and, as we have seen, the Mexican drug trade is extremely violent and deadly,” Judd said. “Our detectives did an outstanding job of removing these drugs—and dealers—from causing future misery, violence, and death. Without question, lives have been saved as a result of this investigation.”

Three of the traffickers were undocumented immigrants, he said. One of them has been released, the others remain in custody.