A traffic stop of a drug courier by the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) last week interrupted a federal investigation of Guatemalans now accused of plotting to sell more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine. But the premature arrest of one man didn't stop the investigation. On Tuesday, federal agents arrested two more Guatemalan men and charged them with conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine from Lakeland.
According to a sworn statement from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Roger Vernoy, the case began when three men met with an undercover agent Oct. 24 in Lakeland.
At that meeting, Julio Marroquin and Enzo Pagliari instructed Edmundo Gonzalez to drive 100 kilograms of cocaine, about 220 pounds, from Lakeland to Miami. The proceeds from the sale were to be paid to Marroquin, Pagliari and the undercover agent, according to the affidavit. At that time another 880 pounds of cocaine would be released to Marroquin and Pagliari.
The next day, according to Vernoy's affidavit, agents watched the three men load the cocaine into a hidden compartment of a van. But later that same day, Gonzalez was stopped for speeding by the Florida Highway Patrol on Interstate 75 in Manatee County.
A patrol dog smelled cocaine in the van, and a search by troopers revealed the 220 pounds of cocaine. Highway patrol troopers then arrested Gonzalez, according to Vernoy's affidavit.
About 6:30 p.m. that day, Marroquin and Pagliari met again with the undercover agent in Lakeland and told him they had learned of Gonzalez's arrest from a television news show.
Federal agents then began monitoring the movement of Marroquin and Pagliari around Polk County until their arrest Tuesday, according to Vernoy's statement.
Both men were being held without bail Tuesday in the Hillsborough County Jail.