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Big meth bust in Polk County | News

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Big meth bust in Polk County

Polk County, Florida -- Drugs, guns and cash - a recipe for trouble was on display at the Polk County Sheriff's Office Wednesday, as Sheriff Grady Judd announced the breakup of a major drug ring.

"This is a great deal of methamphetamine," Judd said, pointing to large clear bags of crystal meth and also thermoses filled with meth oil. 

Judd estimates the meth materials were worth about $850,000 on the street. Detectives also seized guns and about $13,000 in cash.

So far, seven people have been arrested on drug and related charges. Judd says one of the main players is 38-year-old Lydia Santiago. "We know she's moved a lot of dope over a lot of years," said Judd at a news conference Wednesday.

Photos: View photos of all 7 suspects here

The drug ring began to crumble Tuesday evening when detectives arrested Santiago during a traffic stop along Highway 60 near Bartow. Investigators say they found three pounds of meth and $8,000 cash inside her SUV. And along with all the drugs and money- three of Santiago's young children, who are now in DCF custody.

"What a mom," Judd quipped.

Law enforcement searched Santiago's house on South Kissingen Avenue in Bartow. With trash scattered throughout the yard, it sticks out like a sore thumb in the tidy neighborhood. People who live nearby suspected drug dealing, because of all the traffic.

"You'd see cars going and coming all times of the night--up to early in the morning," said Bob Altman, who lives across the street.

The arrests come after nearly a year-long investigation focusing on sales in central Florida, and the probe is not done. Judd says detectives will now target the meth makers.

"We know who you are," said Judd. "We're after you all; so get ready, get ready-- it's not over yet."

Follow 10 News Reporter KathrynBursch on twitter @Kathryn Bursch


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