Millions in drug money sent via mail to St. Pete suspect

- Hundreds of pounds of pot and thousands of dollars in cash: that's just a month's worth of deliveries to one man's luxury apartment building, according to St. Petersburg Police.

On March 23, investigators executed a search warrant at Vaughn "Niño Breeze" Matthews' Ibis Walk Apartments rental in St. Pete. Inside the home, investigators said they found 23 pounds of high-grade, hydroponic marijuana packaged and ready for distribution.

They also found a trio of handguns and $87,000 in suspected drug money.

Matthews was arrested that night and released on bail two days later, but his suppliers, apparently, didn't get the memo about the bust.

St. Pete police said, as their investigation into Matthews' drug operation continued over the following month, they intercepted numerous packages containing drugs and suspected drug money. In all, detectives said they seized a total of $168,800 dollars in cash and approximately 230 pounds of marijuana. According to St. Pete police, that much pot has a street value of about $1.15 million.

"We're trying to go after the people who are bringing those drugs into our community," explained St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, who says rooting out suspected drug distributors is worth far more than going after street dealers. "We don't want that low-hanging fruit. we want these guys and gals that are destroying our community. We take that person off the street, we may take 10 or 15 grams, we take a distributor off the street and we take pounds off the street. That's what we want."

Detectives believe the packages were being sent by a Los Angeles-based drug ring. St. Pete police said they were working with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and additional arrests of Matthews' associates are pending.

Matthews faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, a second degree felony, and felon in possession of a firearm, also a second degree felony. Both charges are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

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