As many as nine Clewiston area people are in jail at this time in connection with a major drug arrest that took place over the last four days. Hendry County Sheriff’s officials say the nine arrestees, Russell Crespo, Rogelio Villalobos, Amanda Santiago, Yajaira Crespo, Rolando Garcia, Tavares Thicklin, Thomas Horace, Samuel Howard and Vivianna Ramirez were all arrested as part of Operation Raising Cane, an effort to rid the SW Florida community of alleged drug dealers, traffickers and illegal drugs. Narcotics officers from Hendry County and other agencies served warrants at more than a dozen locations, resulting in the seizure of over 73 grams of heroin, 38 grams of cocaine, over 70 grams of oxycodone, over five grams of prescription pills, 13 grams of Xanax, not to mention some firearms, body armor and $15 thousand dollars in cash. The charges levied include conspiracy to distribute narcotics, sale of narcotics within a thousand feet of a church, school or park and unlawful use of two-way communication devices to commit felonies. Hendry County authorities were assisted by officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), State Attorney’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Task Force (NETFORCE) and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department. No injuries were reported.
The Hendry County School Districts Covid-19 dashboard shows Fourteen students and three staff members at Labelle Elementary School are being ordered to self-quarantine. The district says one staff member has tested positive. A staff member at Clewiston High School has also tested positive for COVID-19, and two staff members there will be self-quarantining as well. LaBelle Middle School has 16 students on quarantine orders, with 1 student and 1 staff member testing positive. You can see COVID-19 updates on the school’s district dashboard located on the main page.
On Saturday, Sept. 12, about 30 to 40 people gathered with signs and flags, for a second Back the Blue rally in front of the Hendry County Courthouse in LaBelle. A Clewiston resident was interviewed by a fellow journalist. Becky Marshall said, “‘Back the Blue’ is an ACT for America activism campaign focused on building community support for our local police officers.” The rally went on from 8 a.m. to about 9:30 a.m. and remained peaceful.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay announced Tuesday that her 19-year-old daughter tested positive for COVID-19. McKinlay’s daughter, a University of Central Florida student, is hospitalized in Orlando. McKinlay says her daughter sent her a text message saying she had “excruciating shooting leg pains.” McKinlay represents Western Palm Beach County which includes Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee. As part of the county’s phase two reopening plans, Dr. Alina Alonso, Health Officer for the county said her office has set up mitigation protocols like contact tracers and seating charts ahead of in-person school instruction that is set to begin next week.
Hendry County will be conducting mosquito spraying over LaBelle Acres (Case and Evans Roads), LaBelle Ranchettes (Alphabet Roads), South LaBelle today (Wednesday September 16th) weather permitting through Sunday, September 20th . These operations will continue throughout the remainder of the year as mosquito levels warrant. The insecticide to treat for adult mosquitoes is approved for application by the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Florida. This operation will be conducted by Clarke.