7 arrested in Polk County meth bust


Lydia Santiago

POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Seven people were arrested in Polk County during an investigation into the sale of methamphetamine, authorities said Wednesday.

Investigators said they seized more than 50 pounds of methamphetamine, three vehicles (a Ford Expedition, a Chrysler 300 and a Nissan Murano), three motorcycles, $13,300 in cash and three firearms.

Undercover detectives said they purchased meth and watched others purchasing meth from a drug dealer identified as Lydia Santiago, 38, of Bartow, over an 11-month time period.

On Tuesday, detectives said they conducted a traffic stop on Santiago's SUV and found over three pounds of meth, along with $8,000 cash. Santiago's three children were also in the SUV, authorities said.

Santiago was arrested along with her passenger, Daquon Gunter-Santel, 20, of Lakeland, who was on probation, officers said.

The children were turned over to the Department of Children and Families.

Detectives said when they went to Santiago's home they found a firearm and marijuana.

Jorge Morales-Vallejo, 23, was inside the home at the time and was arrested, detectives said.

While detectives were at the home, they said Arturo Sanchez, 22, and Angel Castro, 24, arrived and officers found meth in their car.

Detectives then responded to a home in Winter Haven, where they said they found a small amount of meth, drug paraphernalia and $5,300 cash.

Jose Torres, 35, who lives at the home was arrested, officers said.

During the investigation, a search warrant was conducted at the home labeled "stash house" by Sanchez and Castro, authorities said.

Detectives said they seized 46 pounds of meth and two firearms.

One of the firearms was stolen out of Brevard County, said authorities.

The final home that detectives responded to was in Bartow, where they said they found Edwin Hall, 61, in possession of meth.

The people arrested were jailed on drug-related and trafficking charges.