Lot Lizard: Police crack down on Redlands’ illegal big rig parking lots

(WSVN) - The 7Investigates team has exposed how illegal big rig parking lots have disturbed the peace in the Redlands. Now Miami-Dade Police are cracking down on the crime. Here’s Kevin Ozebek with a 7Investigates exclusive.

A Redlands property owner is being arrested for allowing big rig trucks to illegally park on his land.

Detective Andre Martin, Miami-Dade Police Illegal Dumping Unit: “Illegal truck lots continue to be a problem in the area.”

Residents in the area have complained about the trucks for years.

Detective Ryan Cowart, Miami-Dade Police Illegal Dumping Unit: “You have your nice, beautiful area, and then, all of a sudden, you have these trucks.”

Now, Miami-Dade Police are cracking down. More than 20 officers, with help from the Florida Highway Patrol, spent the day busting illegal big rig parking lots.

They called it Operation Lot Lizard.

Detective Andre Martin: “What we located today was a lot of what we expected, which is various tractor-trailers illegally parked on agricultural land.”

The first stop: a property on Southwest 136th Street. From the road, you see just the tip of the problem.

Detective Andre Martin: “Because the owners of these locations know what they’re doing is illegal, there’s a lot of efforts made to conceal exactly how many vehicles are being stored on these properties.”

But look at the property once police were let in through the gate.

Our 7News Drone Cam gave an even better view of the dozens of tractor-trailers.

Detective Ryan Cowart: “The big thing is, it’s not worth the money. These people want to come out and try and turn a quick buck and start up a truck lot. It’s not going to be worth it in the end.”

Next, police headed to a nearby nursery on Southwest 137th Street. Behind the rows of plants are rows of big rigs.

Detective Andre Martin: “Once we enter a property like this, it’s very striking, it’s very shocking to see just how many vehicles and trailers are being parked on these lots.”

Police arrested Frank Acanda Acuna. They charged him with operating an illegal parking lot, resisting arrest without violence and not having a valid driver’s license.

A few days later, when we returned, Acanda Acuna asked us to stop filming his property.

Kevin Ozebek: “Can we ask you about the trucks, though?”

Frank Acanda Acuna: “No truck stop.”

But he was not the only target…

Detective Ryan Cowart: “We’re going after the truckers, too.”

While officers searched properties, FHP troopers pulled over trucks.

Detective Ryan Cowart: “They’re just as involved in this situation. They know what they’re doing is incorrect.”

Officers were also on the lookout for other crimes being committed.

Detective Ryan Cowart: “All of a sudden, we see a large plume of black smoke.”

The smoke was coming from an illegal burn.

Detective Andre Martin: “Whenever we see a fire here in the Redlands area, we try to address it as fast as we can.”

They cited a man for burning plastic produce containers.

Detective Ryan Cowart: “There was black plastic that’s burned into the ground. That’s not good for the environment in any way.”

Redlands resident Michael Waneck has been pleading with the county to crack down on the illegal lots and trash dumps. He was thrilled to see the police out in force.

Michael Waneck, Redlands resident: “I thank the police for using their resources for this. The people out here are going to be very appreciative.”

Police have a warning for the owners of other illegal lots and those parking on them: there will be more operations like Lot Lizard coming soon.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

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