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Release Number: 09-117

For Immediate Release

Public Information Office

April 23, 2009

Debbie Carter:

(813) 247-8060







































Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

Tampa Police Department

Immigration and Customs Enforcement





#1 – Victor Navarrete De La Cruz,  DOB 9-16-84

         9410 Grandfield Road, B.


         Charges:  Trafficking in cocaine (400 grams to 150 kilos)

                           Conspiracy to traffic in cocaine


#2 – Irasema Morena-Rojas,  DOB 11-24-82

        10408 N. Central Avenue, Tampa

         Charges:  Trafficking in cocaine (400 grams to 150 kilos)

                            Trafficking in cocaine


#3 – Ricardo Manuel Lopez,  DOB 10-24-65

         4703 Coronet Road, Plant City

         Charges:  Trafficking in cocaine (400 grams to 150 kilos)

                           Conspiracy to traffic in cocaine


#4 -  Nicolas Sandoval-Rivera, DOB 9-10-63

         3225 Crutchfield Road, Lakeland

         Charges:  Trafficking in cocaine (400 grams to 150 kilos)

                           Conspiracy to traffic in cocaine


#5 – Juan Luis Gonzalez, DOB 1-29-77

         2907 Bloomingdale Avenue, Valrico

         Charges:  Trafficking in cocaine (400 grams to 150 kilos)

                           Conspiracy to traffic in cocaine


Largest drug and money seizure in the history of the Sheriff’s Office


April 22, 1009


3 locations within Hillsborough County
































Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives assisted by Tampa Police Department detectives and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents received intelligence information regarding a cocaine smuggling organization located within Plant City, Florida ran by Ricardo Lopez, Jr. and others.  The organization was receiving 3 – 5 cocaine shipments per week, each shipment containing numerous kilograms of cocaine which were believed to be hidden in spare tires carried by the car carrier trucks.  The proceeds from the cocaine were shipped back to Texas concealed in cars via a car carrier truck.


On April 21, 2009, while conducting surveillance, detectives observed a utility service truck believed to be responsible for meeting with the car carrier trucks, taking possession of the cocaine and then transporting the cocaine to a “stash house” at an unknown location.  The truck was transporting 4 large semi tires and was followed by a Ford F-250 owned by Ricardo Lopez Jr. and a Ford F-150 owned by Victor De La Cruz (another suspected member of the organization).  The utility service truck was followed to 2907 Bloomingdale Avenue, and the other two trucks continued after making sure that the truck arrived safely.  It is believed that the cocaine was delivered at this time to the Bloomingdale Avenue residence.


On April 22, 2009, detectives conducted surveillance at the residence of Ricardo Lopez, Jr. – 3938 Highway 60, in Plant City.  This residence was believed to the “stash house” this cocaine organization was using to store the proceeds of the drug sales.


During the surveillance at 3938 Highway 60, detectives observed Victor De La Cruz outside of the residence looking through a pair of binoculars for the presence of law enforcement.  De La Cruz then entered the residence two times and both times walked outside to his truck with a large duffle bag and placed the duffle bags in the back seat of his truck.


A traffic stop was conducted on the truck and consent to search the truck was obtained.  Two large duffle bags found within the vehicle contained approximately 1.6 million dollars in U.S. currency.  A Search Warrant was served at 3938 Highway 60 and during the search of residence items discovered included:  1 currency counting machine, 1 handgun, 2 SKS assault rifle, 2 vehicles valued at $50,00 which were seized, and approximately 2 million dollars in U.S. currency.


A result of this investigation, a consent search was conducted at 2907 Bloomingdale Avenue.  During the search of this location the following items were found:  approximately $350,000.00 in U.S. currency, 179 kilograms of cocaine was discovered concealed within an underground storage container.  Additionally, a 2005 Chrysler-300 vehicle valued at $30,000 was seized.


The investigation continued with a search warrant at 4703 Coronet Road.  During the search of this location, the following items were located:  3 SKS Assault rifles, 1 revolver and 170 grams of cocaine and 2 vehicles valued at approximately $35,000.00 which were seized.


"This significant seizure of almost 200 kilograms of cocaine is a clear example of the level of teamwork and camaraderie among federal, state and local agencies in Tampa," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE investigations in Tampa.  "ICE will continue to work aggressively with our partners in Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in our efforts to enforce the law, dismantle drug trafficking organizations and keep drugs off our streets."