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WALDO – Three men who authorities say are Mexican nationals have been arrested on drug and weapons charges. Helio Rolando Lopez-Elizalde, 23; Edwin Giovanny Mendoza-Verdugo, 20; and Jorge Mario Velasquezgii, 40, were arrested Wednesday, May 11, in Waldo and charged with possession of trafficking amounts of heroin, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and committing a first-degree felony with a weapon. All three said they were born in Mexico and listed an extended-stay hotel in Gainesville as their address; no driver’s licenses or other U.S. identification cards were listed for any of them.

An Alachua County Sheriff’s deputy conducted a traffic stop at 3:52 p.m. at 16400 N.E. County Road 1475 in Waldo on a black Chevrolet Malibu for multiple tint violations. The deputy reported that the front windshield was tinted all the way down, and the driver’s side window was darker than permitted by law. The deputy reported that Lopez-Elizalde, the driver, said he did not speak any English. Translation services were used to obtain his name.

Velasquezgii, the front seat passenger, spoke a small amount of English and reportedly told the deputy they were from Mexico and working in construction, but they were off work that day. He reportedly said they were heading toward Interstate-75 to go to the hospital, but the deputy noted that they were heading north, in the wrong direction to get to I-75.

After Mendoza-Verdugo got out of the back seat, the deputy noted “multiple nervous indicators” from the passengers, and a K9 team walked around the vehicle, resulting in a positive alert for contraband. All three occupants were pat-searched for weapons and placed in the back seat of a patrol car.

The deputy reported that he conducted a probable-cause search of the vehicle and found a plastic bag with a brown rock-like substance that later tested positive for heroin, which weighed over 250 grams, including packaging. The deputy also found a loaded handgun that was in reach of all the occupants of the vehicle.

When the deputies returned to the patrol vehicle to place the subjects in handcuffs, they found blue pills that were identified as Oxycodone. A further search of the vehicle found another loaded handgun under the driver’s seat.

Post Miranda, all the occupants of the vehicle reportedly denied knowledge of any illegal contraband inside the car.

All three were charged with possession of a trafficking amount of heroin, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and committing a first-degree felony with a weapon. Lopez-Elizalde has an added charge of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and is being held on $275,000 bond. Mendoza-Verdugo is being held on $250,000 bond. Velasquezgii is being held without bail; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) has requested a detainer for him.

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