9 Arrested In Interstate Drug Ring Case
LARGO - Authorities today announced they arrested nine people in connection with an interstate drug ring they say smuggled more than 8,000 pounds of marijuana into Pinellas County. The drugs were brought in by commercial parcel delivery companies, car carriers and rental automobiles, Pinellas Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Bordner said in a news release. Of the nine arrested, four were taken into custody in St. Petersburg, four in Tucson and one in Las Vegas, Bordner said. The law enforcement operation designed to put a dent in the ring was dubbed Cannabis Express and involved the efforts of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, among others.It began last year, culminating in arrests Wednesday and today, Bordner said. During the probe, more than a ton of marijuana and more than $150,000 were seized, Bordner said. Detectives say they think the suspects smuggled marijuana from Mexico through Arizona before it reached Pinellas County for street-level distribution. Four of the suspects are from St. Petersburg. They were identified by authorities as Maurice Hemmingway, 29, of 2504 13th St. S.; Antwan D. Cummings, 30, of 3161 53rd Ave. N.; Derek Lane, 31, of 6400 30th St. S.; and Aaron C. George, 23, of 1408 25th Ave. S. Four are from Tucson: Arturo Santos-Granados, 26; Rafael Santos-Granados, 21; Mercedes Reborn-Granados, 27; and Maria Concepcion Granados-Gutierrez, 49. One suspect, Frederick Huston Jr., 23, is from Las Vegas. Each was arrested on a federal warrant charging them with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, Bordner said.