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9 arrested in sophisticated marijuana trafficking investigation

Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation in May, 2014, into the marijuana drug trafficking organization allegedly headed by 40-year-old Nelson Hernandez of Lake Wales. During the course of the investigation, detectives gathered information resulting in the arrest of 9 people, the seizure of 96 pounds of marijuana, an additional seizure of 70 marijuana plants, marijuana cultivation equipment, cash, and vehicles. The marijuana seized has a street value of $1.1 Million.

members of the Nelson Hernandez Drug Trafficking Organization
(PCSO)
Nelson Hernandez
(PCSO)

Through their investigation, detectives learned Hernandez traveled to south Florida with a large amount of marijuana. Surveillance followed Hernandez to an address in the Lake Worth area. West Palm Sheriff’s Office made contact at the residence, which led to the seizure of $17,000.00 in cash, located in Hernandez’s vehicle.

Detectives also learned that Hernandez was worried about Law Enforcement catching him with his grow operation. In the week before search warrants were served, Hernandez began dismantling marijuana grow houses known to detectives. Surveillance followed Hernandez to 214 Limpkin Lane, Frostproof, Florida, where he was observed removing several large containers, boxes, and large duffle bags, and taking them into the residence. Detectives learned Hernandez had discussed with friends having to pay a person $10,000.00 to keep the items at his residence.

Ultimately, six (6) search warrants were authored and approved. On June 17, 2014, the search warrants were executed at residences in Frostproof and Lake Wales.
- A total of ninety six (96) pounds of marijuana was seized from 214 Limpkin Lane, Frostproof, Florida.
- At total of seventy (70) marijuana plants and a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pickup was seized from 2920 Walk In Water Road, Lake Wales, Florida.
- $5,866.00 in U.S. currency, a Toyota Sequoia , a power sport four wheeler, a Nissan Altima, were all seized from 6074 State Road 60, Alturas, Florida.
- A 2006 Ford F-350 and marijuana cultivation equipment were seized from 2201 Walk In Water Road, Lake Wales, Florida. (Hernandez’s address)

Nelson Hernandez, 41 years old, was charged with cultivation of Cannabis (3 Counts), Trafficking in Cannabis, Conspiracy to Traffic in Cannabis, Conspiracy to Cultivate Cannabis, Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Device, Theft of Utilities (Electric), Maintain a Dwelling/Structure for Manufacture of Cannabis

Zailen Hernandez-Alonso, 38 years old, was charged with conspiracy to Cultivate Cannabis, Maintain a Dwelling/Structure for Manufacture Cannabis, Theft of Utilities (Electric), Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Device.

Also arrested and charged were
Yohandi Hernandez-Cruz – 26 years old, Reynel De Armas Fundora – 28 years old, Yasmany Gallardo – 30 years old, Jose Diaz – 57 years old, Francesca Lopez – 41 years old, Jesus Perdomo Padron – 41 years old , and Guillermo Jorrin – 43 years old.

All faced similar charges to Hernandez, including Cultivation of Cannabis, Possession of Cannabis Under 20 Grams, Possession of Methamphetamine, Conspiracy to Cultivate Cannabis, Maintaining a Dwelling/Structure for Manufacture of Cannabis, Unlawful Use of Two-Way Device, and Theft of Utilities (Electric).

Not all of the residences contained active indoor marijuana growing operations, but they did still have signs of prior cultivation to include taps diverting electricity before the meter.

As a part of the investigation, a search was conducted at 185 111th Ocean, Marathon, Florida; the residence of Jesus Perdomo. During the search, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office detectives, and Special Agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement located documentation pertaining to businesses and bank accounts used to launder proceeds derived from the cultivation of marijuana. Court orders have been filed to freeze the bank accounts for investigation and potential forfeiture.