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'Operation Hot Wire' | 70+ people charged after Polk County wiretap investigation leads to countywide drug bust

Posted at 8:04 PM, May 19, 2020

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A wiretap investigation that spanned about nine months helped lead deputies to a countywide drug bust in Polk County.

According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, "Operation Hot Wire" stemmed from a series of five violent, gang-related home invasions and the unsolved murder of Shay Collins last year.

"We had nine different, seven different phones, two more extensions, nine different phones and extensions that we went up on," said Sheriff Grady Judd.

Investigators monitored 37,000 calls and texts during the wire tap operation. Detectives executed 12 search warrants, even leading them to an underground tunnel. In all, 74 people were charged with more than 700 felonies. Investigators seized money, guns, and more than $500,000 worth of drugs, including cocaine, meth, heroin, and 30 grams of fentanyl.

"When we seized that 30 grams of fentanyl, let me put this in perspective, there was enough fentanyl there to kill between 9,000 and 15,000 people," said Sheriff Judd.

Sheriff Judd also said a man named Alphonso Payne Jr. was recently killed near an area where they served a search warrant. Despite a rumor that Payne was working with law enforcement, the sheriff says he was not a source.

"It's not alright for Alphonso to die. It’s not alright for Shay to die. It’s not alright for people not to tell us who did these murders, but understand this: if you’re in the county jail or you were arrested during this roundup and have information about this, its important to tell us," said the Sheriff. "No one is going to rest easy until we solve these murders. Every life is important to us."

Of the 74 people charged, six suspects are still on the run. They are:

  • Terrance Morton, DOB 10/10/95 - Charges: Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 28 grams (5 counts), Unlawful Use of Two Way Communication device.
  • Lisson Etienne, Jr., DOB 03/9/78 - Charges: Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 400 grams, Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 200 (5 counts), Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 28 grams (9 counts), Unlawful Use of Two Way Communication Device.
  • Willy Adam Jr., DOB 03/31/85 - Charges: Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 200 grams, Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 28 grams, Unlawful Use of Two Way Communication Device.
  • Nathanial Everett, DOB 03/27/80 - Charges: Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 200 grams (2 counts), Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 28 grams, Conspiracy to Purchase Cocaine, Unlawful Use of Two Way Communication Device.
  • Garrian Larry, DOB 06/19/74 - Charges: Conspiracy to Traffic Cocaine over 400 grams, Unlawful Use of Two Way Communication Device.
  • Wesley Denney, DOB 09/10/86 - Charges: Conspiracy to Traffic Heroin over 4 grams – less than 14 grams (2 counts), Conspiracy to Purchase Heroin (3 counts), Conspiracy to Purchase Cocaine (7 counts), Unlawful Use of Two Way Communication Device.

For a full list of those charged in Operation Hot Wire, click here.