Thursday, April 19, 2018
Public safety

Hillsborough sheriff's Operation Grinch Stop finds 31 fugitives, probation violators

Parole violator Miguel Angel Quijada got away, but deputies from the Hillsborough Sheriff's Street Crimes Unit didn't end their night empty handed.

Five fugitives from Plant City, Dover and Seffner were behind bars again and the deputies had uncovered a couple of methamphetamine labs in what was the fourth night of Operation Grinch Stop.

The weeklong push aimed at capturing fugitives and probation violators started Dec. 10 and involved 30 deputies and corrections officers.

Altogether, deputies made 31 arrests on 40 charges, plus recovered four handguns and a shotgun, the sheriff's office said.

"Some of these violators will be heading back to prison instead of roaming the streets looking for their next victims," Lt. Frank Losat said.

High on their list last week was the elusive Quijada, 26, who had served time in 2009 for kidnapping and assault but now was wanted for breaking parole.

On the night of Dec. 13, after busting a meth lab at 3209 Young Road, deputies from the Street Crimes Unit converged at the Circle K at Thonotosassa Road and Interstate 4 to coordinate their next moves.

Five peeled away to look for Quijada, who seemed to bounce from house to house each night looking for places to crash.

"He's a runner," Deputy Chris Maffei, 27, said as he wheeled up to a tan brick house on Forbes Road. "If he sees you coming, it's not above him to run and hide."

A woman at the door said Quijada wasn't there but they were free to look around. Two deputies emerged 10 minutes later without him.

Next up was a caramel brown house at Rex Avenue and Downing Street, across from the Dover Advent Christian Church. A chain-link fence covered in vines rimmed the property, making it secluded.

Quijada came by occasionally but hadn't been seen in three days, deputies were told.

Two went inside. Two more went to an apartment out back. The occupants seemed overly cordial and relaxed, standing with the deputies in the chilly night air.

Minutes later, three men and a woman left the property, walking up Rex Avenue.

"It's not good when you show up and people start to leave," Deputy Ryan Daniels said.

The deputies gave them a head start of a block or so, then hopped into their squad cars to follow. They all ended up at the Taqueria Pancho Villa, a taco stand at Dover Road.

One of the men turned out to have an oustanding warrant on a theft charge and initially gave deputies a false name.

It wasn't the name of someone else, but the name of someone who doesn't exist according to DMV records.

Deputies nudged the handcuffed man into a squad car. At that point, he seemed more forthcoming, giving deputies what they really wanted: information.

Later that night, they made three more arrests and busted another meth lab.

Quijada wasn't to be found, but deputies seemed closer to catching him.

"He'll turn up," Deputy Jessica Guthrie said as she drove toward downtown Plant City. "He'll get picked up on a traffic stop or on another call."

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2454.

Comments
Deputies: Schwettman student charged in threat on River Ridge High

Deputies: Schwettman student charged in threat on River Ridge High

NEW PORT RICHEY—A Schwettman Education Center student was arrested Wednesday after he threatened an attack on River Ridge High School, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.The student, 15, is facing a charge of falsely reporting a bomb or f...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Teen, 16, struck by motorcycle while crossing Ulmerton Road

Teen, 16, struck by motorcycle while crossing Ulmerton Road

A 16-year-old was injured Thursday morning after being struck by a motorcycle on Ulmerton Road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Around 6 a.m., Saul Paulino walked into the path of the motorcycle driven by Austin Montgomery, 23, in the outermo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Deputies: Seminole man burglarizes house, then sets it on fire

Deputies: Seminole man burglarizes house, then sets it on fire

SEMINOLE — A Seminole man was arrested Wednesday night after detectives linked him to the burglary of a house that was later set on fire.Homeowner Lance Clipper, 52, reported the burglary when he arrived at his house, 8350 Flame Vine Ave., around 2:4...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Teen, 16, killed in Hernando crash; 17-year-old critically injured

Teen, 16, killed in Hernando crash; 17-year-old critically injured

BROOKSVILLE — A 16-year-old boy was killed and a 17-year-old boy critically injured after their car was struck by a pick-up truck at the intersection of U.S. 19 and Country Road on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The cras...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Largo police release video as State Attorney clears officer in shooting

Largo police release video as State Attorney clears officer in shooting

LARGO — The Pasco-Pinellas state attorney cleared a Largo police officer who fatally shot a 30-year-old man last month.The letter from State Attorney Bernie McCabe said Officer Matthew Steiner was "in imminent fear for his life" during the March 23 e...
Published: 04/18/18
Six children hurt as school bus overturns in Hernando crash

Six children hurt as school bus overturns in Hernando crash

Alexander Segovia, 33, of Ocala, was hauling toilet paper in the 2017 truck south on I-75 and exited at S.R. 50, the FHP said. He was driving in the west outside lane, trooper said, when he failed to make a full stop at a red light, partially entered...
Published: 04/18/18
Deputies find $480,000 worth of marijuana in Valrico homes

Deputies find $480,000 worth of marijuana in Valrico homes

VALRICO — Five people were arrested Tuesday after Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies said they found $480,000 worth of marijuana in their homes.Deputies obtained search warrants for those locations and found 44 marijuana plants and six pounds of process...
Published: 04/18/18
Skydiver seriously injured at Zephyrhills’ Skydive City

Skydiver seriously injured at Zephyrhills’ Skydive City

ZEPHYRHILLS — A skydiver was reported to be in critical condition after an incident at Skydive City, according to Pasco County Fire Rescue.The injured person was found near a pond and was flown to a hospital for medical treatment, the agency said.MOR...
Published: 04/18/18
He tried to hide in the swamp. But he couldn’t hide from a sheriff’s dog (w/video)

He tried to hide in the swamp. But he couldn’t hide from a sheriff’s dog (w/video)

A high-speed chase across two counties ended late Tuesday when a Pasco sheriff’s dog tracked down a Land O’Lakes man wanted for assaulting a Hernando sheriff’s deputy as he tried to hide by submerging himself in a swamp, according to the Pasco County...
Published: 04/18/18
Tampa fugitive, on run for 18 years, extradited from Dominican Republic

Tampa fugitive, on run for 18 years, extradited from Dominican Republic

TAMPA — A 76-year-old fugitive who has been on the run 18 years after skipping out on his court date has been extradited back to Hillsborough County to face charges.Jose Antonio Gonzalez was recently located and arrested in the Dominican Republic, de...
Published: 04/18/18