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Search Warrant Nets Significant Amount of Fentanyl and Cash

Posted June 16th, 2022

WINTER HAVEN – Winter Haven Police obtained a search warrant on a property located along 21 St SW in Winter Haven following tips of drug sales going on at the location.
On 6-15-2022, members served the warrant at 439 21st St. SW where 60-year-old Ildefonso Mendez-Rios, 59-year-old Fernando Sanchez and 52-year-old Sandra Cruz were detained. During the search, a locked shed was located in the backyard that only Mendez had access. Inside, a jewelry box was found on a shelf with 15 baggies containing 2.5 grams of a pink powdery substance, which tested positive for fentanyl.
(It should be noted that just two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal. Mixing with other drugs including heroin or methamphetamine increases the likelihood of death.)
Inside of the residence, a safe belonging to Mendez-Rios’ was located that contained $9,070 in cash.
A bedroom belonging to Sanchez was located with an additional five baggies of a powdery substance that tested positive for fentanyl. Additionally, methamphetamine was found inside of a cup along with drug paraphernalia.
When Sandra Cruz was searched, a pipe that tested positive for fentanyl was located inside of her bra. Cruz also was found to have an active warrant for Failure to Appear on a suspended driver’s license charge.
It should be noted that the residence borders the Lake Howard Nature Park, well within 1,000 feet of the park
“Our officers were able to take a significant amount of fentanyl off the street,” said Police Chief David Brannan. “We are dedicated to continuing the search for those who are endangering the public with this lethal drug.”

The three were all taken into custody and charged as follows:
Ildefonso Mendez-Rios: Sales of Fentanyl within 1,000 ft of school/childcare/park (F-1); Keep Shop/Veh for Drugs (M-1) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (M-1)
Fernando Sanchez: Possession of Fentanyl (F-3); Possession of Methamphetamine (F-3) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (M-1)
Sandra Cruz: Possession of Fentanyl (F-3) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (She will also be held for her outstanding warrant)

Mendez-Rios                        Sanchez                                    Cruz