Joint Drug Investigation Nets 4 Men & Pounds Of Meth

Bartow, Fla. (970 WFLA)-A joint Methamphetamine drug trafficking investigation between Polk County Sheriff's Office High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, the Florida Highway Patrol Criminal Interdiction Unit, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the Marion County Sheriff's Office ,the   Office of State Attorney Brian Haas, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's Office resulted in the arrests of four suspects and the seizure of 32 pounds of Methamphetamines, $5,000 in U.S. currency, two firearms, and marijuana. 

The investigation began in January 2017 when PCSO received information that 35-year-old Daniel Tavira Santander was back in Polk County distributing large amounts of Meth.   

Daniel was previously arrested in April 2015 with several other suspects by PCSO during "Operation Déjà vu," for trafficking in Meth. He was released after posting bond and has been out of jail since that time. 

Detectives recently learned Daniel was living in Auburndale but had a house in Ocala where he was storing Meth to avoid detection by Polk County law enforcement. 

PCSO detectives began surveillance on Daniel and his associates, two of whom were positively identified as brothers, 34-year-old Joseph Cruey and 35-year-old Jackie Cruey.

On March 8, 2017, PCSO detectives received information that the Cruey brothers were en-route from Texas back to Polk County with a large amount of Meth. 

On March 9, 2017, FHP Troopers conducted a traffic stop based on a PCSO BOLO (be on look out) near Lake City (Columbia County) on a Ford F-150 occupied by the Cruey brothers. Within the truck they found 32 pounds of Meth concealed in the tool box in the bed of the truck, and two loaded handguns in the cab, along with a small amount of marijuana. 

The Cruey brothers were booked in to the Columbia County Jail and charged with: 

·Possession of Firearm During Commission of Felony (Life)·

Trafficking in Meth (F-1)·Conspiracy to Traffic in Meth (F-1)·

Distribution of Meth (F-3)·

Smuggling Controlled Substance Across State Lines (F-2)·

Possession of Marijuana (M-1)·

Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1)

Jackie Cruey was additionally charged with one count Driving While License Suspended/Revoked.   His criminal history includes prior arrests for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, culpable negligence, felony drug charges, cultivation of marijuana, battery domestic violence, carrying concealed weapon, and DWLSR. 

Joseph Cruey's criminal history includes a prior arrest for assault.   

On March 9, 2017, PCSO detectives conducted a traffic stop on a Jeep Cherokee occupied by 31-year-old Juan Mendoza-Tavira. 

Inside, they located a 5-gallon paint bucket with ½ pound of Meth submerged in paint, and approximately $5,000 in U.S. currency.   Juan is a known associate and distributor of Meth with Daniel, and Juan is in the country illegally.

Juan was booked in to the Polk County Jail and charged with: 

Trafficking in Meth (F-1)·Conspiracy to Traffic in Meth (F-1)·

Possession of Structure to Sell Controlled Substance (F-2)·

Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1)

Juan is currently being held on an ICE/Department of Homeland Security hold.

On March 10, 2017, PCSO and Marion County Sheriff's detectives arrested Juan's associate, Daniel Tavira Santander at his house located at 5731 SE 33rd Court in Ocala.   Daniel was booked into the Marion County Jail and later transferred to the Polk County Jail and charged with:

Conspiracy to Traffic in Meth (F-1)

Daniel's arrest history includes prior arrests for: vehicle theft, vehicle burglary, robbery, carrying concealed firearm, possession of a weapon by a minor, failure to appear, fraud, DWLSR, felony drug charges, felony weapons charges, aggravated assault, violation of probation, battery domestic violence, DUI.

Photo Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office

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