The Polk County Sheriff's office arrested 13 suspects on Tuesday who were allegedly part of a Florida methamphetamine ring that was apparently receiving (bad) advice from an unlikely source -- a Voodoo priest.
As part of Operation Hoodoo Voodoo, 44 pounds of meth -- worth about $2 million -- was seized when ring leader Luis Villafuerte-Rojas was arrested at a truck stop in Polk City.
The operation’s supervisor, Javier Flores, remains on the loose.
Flores and another ring leader, Ma-Conception Lopez, reportedly consulted with the Voodoo priest after investigators took $200,000 in cash in February.
"They wanted to know if it was OK to continue," said sheriff's spokeswoman Donna Woods.. "The priest advised them everything's OK. Just lay low for a couple of weeks. It's not the police. It's someone inside the organization…As a matter of fact, it was the police."
Lopez had been deported to Mexico in 2009 after serving a 3-year meth sentence, and returned to Florida illegally. Federal investigators say the multimillion-dollar Mexican meth pipeline moved through southern California to supply the drug to cities in Nevada, Georgia and Florida.
In addition to the meth, the ring was also in possession of a stockpile of weapons including AR-15 assault rifles, an AK-47 pistol with a drum magazine and a grenade launcher.
“This is Polk County vernacular, how we hoodoo the Voodoo man," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "The day we served all the search warrants and made all the arrests, he told them, 'Don’t worry about it, everything is fine.' Well, I agree with the Voodoo man, everything is fine. Polk County is safe and there’s a lot of drugs not in central Florida.”
At least 12 more suspects are being sought in Georgia, Davenport, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Windermere and Winter Garden. The priest was not arrested.
[Orlando Sentinel] [Bay News 9]