Gang member awaiting trial on murder charge now suspected in jail drug smuggling operation, Putnam deputies say

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A documented gang member who is awaiting trial for murder is now suspected of running a drug smuggling operation inside the Putnam County Jail, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators have identified Francisco Arroyo, 29, as a member of the Latin Kings street gang. They also say his gang affiliation means he has ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

Arroyo was an inmate awaiting trial for one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder when authorities say he started organizing a marijuana and Molly smuggling operation into the jail.

“He attempted to recruit a deputy sheriff of ours to meet with folks on the outside and facilitate a smuggling operation between his associates on the outside of our facility through the deputy bringing narcotics into our jail,” explained Col. Joe Wells, with the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators say one of his associates on the outside was a woman whom he stayed in contact with. But his alleged smuggling plans were foiled when the correction’s deputy that he attempted to bribe turned him in, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“The deputy even took it a step further and agreed to assist us in an undercover operation,” Wells said.

That operation led to Arroyo facing attempted smuggling charges. It also led to Arroyo being transferred to the St. Johns County Jail.

“It’s for the safety of our inmates and employees and to put him into an unfamiliar location where he had not already begun to use his influence to corrupt folks,” Wells said.

Major Scott Surrrency is the jail director. He says he and his staff have taken many steps to prevent illegal narcotics from entering the jail, especially around inmates who may be trying to kick a drug habit. But he says smugglers go to great lengths to bring narcotics into the facility.

“We’ve seen things hidden behind postage stamps, things hidden inside decorative cards. We’ve had bibles with the spine filled with drugs and tobacco. And it’s just as creative as they can be,” Surrency said.

As for Arroyo, investigators are not mincing words about his documented criminal history.

“He belongs behind bars for the rest of his life,” Wells said. “So, hopefully, if we get a conviction in his murder case in addition to these charges, get him off to the Department of Corrections, the better off we will all be.”

This is still an ongoing investigation and Wells says they will likely file more criminal charges and make more arrests because they know Arroyo didn’t act alone.

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