Rodney Hyden, a Gainesville, Florida construction company owner, was arrested Friday after federal agents accused him of attempting to distribute cocaine in bulk, according to news reports. Hyden, 54, was booked into jail on a federal charge of intent to distribute cocaine. It is unclear whether he has qualified for bail bond or has retained a private criminal defense attorney .
According to reports, Hyden was the owner of a construction company that worked on a variety of large projects throughout Florida prior to his arrest. His company website states that his organization was involved in the construction of large buildings at the University of Florida and the Alachua County criminal court house, as well as number of local schools. It is not clear whether any employees of the company are suspected of being involved in Hyden’s alleged crime.
Sources say that the events leading up to Hyden’s arrest began several years ago when he and an unnamed friend discovered a bundle of cocaine that had reportedly washed ashore on Culebra, an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Reports indicate that Hyden and his conspirator buried the drugs in the sand for later distribution. It remains unclear who originally owned the packet.
The investigation began in June of this year when detectives caught Hyden purportedly trying to recover the buried loot. Apparently, the sands where Hyden had allegedly buried the drugs had hardened, leaving him unable to dig up the bundle. How authorities found out about the allegedly illicit activity is not publicly known. Sources report that local police handed the investigation over to the federal Department of Homeland Security, and agents from the DHS then posed as drug traffickers and began to meet with Hyden in Jacksonville, Florida.
After coming to a deal, reports state that Hyden drew a map for the undercover agents. The map apparently led them to Culebra, where they exhumed a bag containing 13 kilo-sized packages of cocaine. The report says that some of the packages also appeared to be 2 kilograms in size. Undercover detectives then met with Hyden at a Gander Mountain shop in St. Augustine, sources say. There, they arranged a trade in which Hyden would receive the cocaine. When Hyden walked out into the parking lot of the store, retrieved the drugs from a car, and transported them to his vehicle, sources say the detectives made their arrest.
It is unclear whether police have pursued a possible investigation into the friend who Hyden reportedly first discovered the cocaine with. Reports did not indicate whether Hyden ever revealed the identity of the conspirator. Sources say that neither Hyden nor his company could be reached for comment regarding the arrest.
Detectives involved in the case reported their finding as almost too hard to believe. “Some of the other detectives that were involved in this — it was so far-fetched that lot of them didn’t believe it. [Rawley] continued to work with the confidential informant to try to figure out if it was [false]… it wasn’t,” a sheriff’s spokesperson told reporters. “He was scratching his head to begin with, but he continued to work it, and one thing led to another. Things were panning out.”