FORT MEADE, Fla. - A major drug bust in Polk County landed six people in jail and detectives believe they have ties to one of the most dangerous drug cartels in Mexico.
"We saw a lot of police cars going by and sirens. The whole nine yards," said one Fort Meade resident who did not want her identity revealed. Like many of her neighbors, she's scared.
"We are a small community and it's a shock," she said.
On September 30, the Central Florida HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) task force arrested six people in Fort Meade and seized approximately 19 pounds of Methamphetamine.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the operation centered around Gabriel Zamarripa Sr. of 1180 Meadow Lawn Street. Detectives began investigating him earlier this year after they received information he was operating a drug trafficking organization in Polk County.
In a news release, the sheriff's office said the Gabriel Zamarripa Drug Trafficking Organization "has ties to the Gulf Cartel, one of the more violent drug cartels operating in North America and Mexico."
After detectives made several undercover buys of 'ice,' which is Methamphetamine in its purest form, they were able to intercept a package reportedly intended for Zamarippa that contained 4.5 pounds of meth.
When detectives responded to his home, the sheriff's office said they found an additional 14.5 pounds of meth and more than $5,700 in cash.
Zamarripa is charged with two counts of trafficking in meth, two counts of maintaining a structure for drug use, one count of conspiracy to traffic in meth, one count of bringing meth into the state, two counts of possession of paraphernalia. He is being held in the Polk County Jail on a Nebbia hold.
Five other people were also arrested including Zamarripa's 20-year-old son, Gabriel Zamarripa, Jr.
Zamarripa Jr. is charged with one count of possession of meth, one count of possession of marijuana, and one count of possession of paraphernalia.
Rodolfo Jalomo, 22, of Brownsville, TX was arrested and charged with one count of trafficking in meth, one count of conspiracy to traffic in meth, one count of delivering meth, and one count of possession of paraphernalia. He is also being held on a Nebbia hold.
Elias Serrano, Jr., 22, of 1165 Sand Mountain Road in Fort Meade is charged with one count of trafficking in meth, one count of possession of meth, and two counts of possession of paraphernalia.
Brandy Kemp, 37, of 422 Citrus Highlands Drive in Bartow is charged with one count of trafficking in meth, one count of conspiracy to traffic in meth, one count of unlawful use of two-way communication devices, one count of possession of paraphernalia, and three counts of violation of probation.
Chester White, Jr., 32, of 39 North Cherokee Ave. in Fort Meade is charged with one count of trafficking in meth, one count of maintaining a dwelling for drug use, one count of possession of paraphernalia, six counts of grand theft of a firearm, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of possession of a forged ID, and one count of dealing in stolen property.
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