Unlicensed Tampa Bay exterminator, fined but still spraying, has been investigated for years

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Illegal work performed by unlicensed exterminator Joe Mendoza has provoked three fines in about three years, but his timeline of pesticide use may be much longer.

Records obtained by 8 On Your Side in a public records request indicate Mendoza has been fined $19,000 since 2018, but he has not paid a penny to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Noah Garcia, whose mother owns one of the houses treated by Mendoza, shared an email that indicated he admitted using exterior pesticide inside the Tampa home at double the recommended dilution rate. That made it twice as strong as it needed to be.

Garcia found out he was not Mendoza’s first disgruntled customer.

“[The FDACS investigator said] they had been looking for him for quite a while,” Garcia said.

Garcia said he was told that Mendoza stated he had 10 steady customers from locations he treats weekly.

It was three years ago when Garcia was told the state had been looking for Mendoza for “quite a while.”

In the Spring, Army Veteran Jonah Huggins bought a Tampa split-level believing Mendoza’s termite report that stated there were no bugs or damage in what he thought was his family’s dream home.

“After a couple days, termites just swarmed from everywhere,” Huggins said at the time.

Huggins has since filed a lawsuit demanding the seller of the property buy it back from him.

FDACS spokesperson Erin Moffet said the department could not comment on details tied to the ongoing investigation in the Huggins case.

“The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services takes all complaints and instances of illegal and unlicensed pest control operations very seriously and has taken several administrative actions against the individual,” Moffet said.

Moffet said anyone with information about “bad actors” can file an online report or call 1-850-617-7996.

“We urge Floridians to file a complaint with our department,” Moffet said.

Mendoza is still not returning phone calls to answer why he hasn’t paid the fines and whether he is still providing exterminator services without a license.

Garcia reflected the cases involving his mother, Huggins and others, and on the inability to stop Mendoza.

“It’s very frustrating,” Garcia said. “To see it happen to a veteran, to anybody really. My mother. You’re taking advantage of somebody.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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