BARTOW, Fla., March 20 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said a drug ring's network of couriers, distributors and dealers included a Voodoo priest.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday deputies carried out Operation Hoodoo Voodoo Tuesday and arrested 13 people accused of being among the methamphetamine ring's network of 25 identified couriers, distributors and street dealers, the Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday.
The accused head of the ring, California resident Javier Flores, known as "El Don," was not among those arrested and his whereabouts are unknown, the sheriff's office said.
Investigators said 44 pounds of methamphetamine were seized Tuesday at a Polk City truck stop and a high-ranking member of the ring, Luis Villafuerte-Rojas, was arrested when the shipment from California arrived.
The sheriff's office said a Voodoo priest was one of the identified members of the ring, but deputies did not release his name or reveal whether he was among those arrested. He served as a spiritual leader for Flores and other members of the criminal gang, deputies said.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Donna Woods said the gang leaders sought guidance from the priest when $200,000 cash was seized by authorities.
"They wanted to know if it was OK to continue," Woods said. "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."