BARTOW, Fla. -- Eighty-five people have been arrested and millions of dollars in illicit drugs seized in a smuggling operation that used checked bags on commercial flights from California to Florida, investigators said Friday.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference that the drugs were hidden in luggage on flights from Los Angeles to Orlando over a two-year period. One seizure involved six piece of luggage containing nothing but drugs, he said.
“They didn't even put so much as a pair of underwear in there to hide it,” Judd told reporters.
The 85 arrests involved 355 combined felonies and 93 misdemeanors in a case centered on drug trafficking in the area around Winter Haven, Florida, authorities said.
Street value of about $12.8 million was estimated for the seizures of drugs including methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, fentanyl, oxycodone and Xanax. Forty-nine guns and $235,000 in cash was also confiscated.
Judd said it was the largest wiretap-related investigation in Polk County history.
“It's anything other than low-level and nonviolent,” the sheriff said. “The whole time they were peddling poison to your kids.”