WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - The Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday the results of a three-month-long undercover investigation into heroin trafficking.
Lakeland police and the state’s attorney’s office joined the sheriff’s office to arrest 17 people during the investigation. One of the suspects was federally indicted in a heroin overdose death.
"There has been a disturbing rise nationwide in deaths associated with heroin and fentanyl. Our deputies are working hard to put these heroin dealers behind bars through proactive investigations. It is also our mission to hold those accountable for each and every heroin overdose death that we can link back to the sale of heroin," Sheriff Grady Judd said in a press release announcing the arrests.
Judd said there were five heroin-related deaths in unincorporated parts of the county last year, but there have already been eight this year.
Among those victims was Susan Schorpen, the mother of kidnapping and murder victim Carlie Brucia. After her daughter was killed, Judd said, Schorpen's life "went downhill." She was found dead in Polk County earlier this month.
"The person who viciously murdered Carlie Brucia is also responsible for the stress and the pressure on this lady who ultimately died of a heroin overdose," Judd offered.
Detectives say they are seeking further indictments in other heroin overdose deaths.