• Authorities bust alleged drug operation that spanned 3 central Florida counties


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Authorities have busted an alleged drug operation they say put drugs on the streets of Orange, Lake and Osceola counties.

    Detectives believe the woman behind the reported drug ring was using a restaurant called Pio Chicken in Kissimmee to keep her cover and launder thousands of dollars.

    The restaurant is now closed.

    Neighbors told Channel 9’s Renee Stoll that Frances Hernandez-Ramirez, 45, looked like a normal mom in her Clermont neighborhood.

    According to arrest reports, she was a major trafficker in the heroin business and worked from home.

    “You see all the time it happens in neighborhoods where people say, ‘Oh not in our neighborhood,’ but it's happening everywhere,” a neighbor said.

    For most of 2013, Orange County investigators have been tapping the phones of Hernandez-Ramirez and Justine Alvarez, who detectives said helped her get the drugs on the streets.

    Alvarez allegedly dealt the drugs to Erickson Leandry, who was one of six people arrested last month for packaging cocaine in fruit cocktail cans and shipping them across central Florida.

    According to reports, Alvarez told detectives Hernandez-Ramirez packaged the heroin in her home.

    She reportedly told Alvarez she was getting the drugs from Mexico and had gotten a rash on her mid-section from having the heroin pressed against her skin.

    The reports stated Alvarez was doing all of his dealings out of an apartment on Semoran Boulevard, while Hernandez-Ramirez used the Kissimmee restaurant to launder the money.

    A business owner told Stoll there were rumors of suspicious activity at the restaurant.

    Both alleged drug dealers are currently in jail on bond totaling nearly $1 million.

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    Authorities bust alleged drug operation that spanned 3 central Florida counties