Marijuana ring dabbled in human trafficking, sheriff says - FOX 13 News

Marijuana ring dabbled in human trafficking, sheriff says

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WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) -

Nine arrests, hundreds of pounds of marijuana, and human trafficking: Sheriff Grady Judd says a major drug ring that made millions in Polk County has been busted.

Detectives are trying to determine whether two recent busts are connected. The first one was the result of an investigation launched last month.

Sheriff Judd says Nelson Hernandez was running a large marijuana growing and trafficking organization, mostly in the Lake Wales area.

Detectives arrested him and eight others last week. They say they seized 96 pounds of marijuana, 70 additional plants, cash, and at least one gun.

Judd says Hernandez ran several grow houses and he'd move them from home to home to avoid getting caught. But he wouldn't tend to the homes himself.

The sheriff says Hernandez would smuggle Cubans into the country and then force them to work in the grow houses as payment.

Investigators took two children out of the home -- a 5-year-old and a 14-year-old.

"That's the kind of people who put greed and drugs and money ahead of their own children," Judd said. "And if they'll do that, what will they do to you and the community? What will they do to you as the customer using their drugs?"

Detectives believe he was shipping the drugs to Miami and the Northeast.

Meanwhile, deputies made another bust this morning. They made two more arrests and allegedly found another 37 plants inside a grow house in Poinciana.

Investigators are trying to determine whether these two cases are connected.

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