Authorities in Florida busted a methamphetamine drug ring this week that included more than two dozen suspects — one of whom is a voodoo priest who leaders purportedly relied upon for “predictions, prophecies and readings” to help them smuggle drugs across the country.
In a mission known as “Operation Hoodoo Voodoo,” detectives and agents determined that 25 suspects were involved in trafficking the illicit drug throughout Florida’s Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk and Seminole Counties, according to a press release distributed by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Police arrested at least 16 suspects this week in an investigation that first began in October 2013.
Authorities believe that the methamphetamine was organized by a supplier in Southern California known as “El Don,” whose real name is Javier Flores; he is still at large.
“Flores resides in southern California and managed large scale methamphetamine shipments to Lakeland, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada through southern California from Mexico,” the release reads. “The organization included a network of couriers, managers, distributors and customers.”
Along with Flores, investigators believe that Ma-Concepcion Lopez, 38, helped lead the ring from her home in Florida. Lopez has a criminal history involving the drug.
She was released from prison in 2009 after serving three years for conspiring to sell methamphetamine, was subsequently deported to Mexico and then returned illegally to the U.S., according to the Orlando Sentinel.
It is believed that Flores and Lopez relied upon an unnamed Voodoo priest to help with “predictions” surrounding how the organization should conduct itself, including whether they should continue after detectives intercepted $200,170 in cash back in February.
“They wanted to know if it was okay to continue,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Donna Woods told the Orlando Sentinel. “The priest advised them everything’s okay. Just lay low for a couple of weeks. It’s not the police. It’s someone inside the organization.”
But it was the police after all and the interception helped build a case against the suspects.
The unnamed priest was in touch with both leaders and lower-level operatives, according to police, serving as a spiritual adviser — and apparently a failed one at that.
Investigators also intercepted 44 points of methamphetamine this week — worth $2 million — at a local truck stop, according to the statement. Additionally, they seized tens of thousands of dollars, vehicles and approximately 100 weapons and ammunition.
The investigation involved the Polk County Sheriff’s Office High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Task Force detectives, members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Orlando District Office, Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office detectives.
Featured image via Polk County Sheriff’s Office