32 people arrested in drug raid

Investigators still searching for 7 suspects

BARTOW, Fla. - Authorities in Polk County have arrested 32 people for drug-related crimes.

Sheriff's detectives, Bartow Police and members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force teamed up for "Operation City Sweep."

They arrested 30 people Thursday in a Bartow neighborhood and two more today. Detectives are still searching for 7 more suspects. The investigation began last August.

Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall said, "Working together with the Sheriff's Office and the HIDTA Task Force, we were able to put dangerous felons in jail, get drugs and guns off the street, and improve the quality of life in this city that we love. We will continue to make arrests like these until those who prey upon the good citizens of Bartow with their illicit lifestyles are all behind bars."

Investigators raided a home on Gibbons Street in Bartow on Thursday.  Sheriff Grady Judd says Ruby Ellen and her family have been selling drugs from there.  "Ruby, being the kind of grandma she was, was allowing one of the children to watch cartoons.  Of course, he had to look over the stack of cash and crack cocaine in order to see the TV screen."

That worries Henry Mathis, who says he's scared to come outside at night. He lives down the street from Ellen. His friends also live there and there's a school just blocks away. Mathis said, "Very concerned because you've got young kids out here. They don't need to see that kind of stuff."

Sheriff Judd said, "The reality is this is the people that are selling drugs to the children of this community and this is the kind of folks that we've got to get off the street." But, Sheriff Judd says that's not the only problem. We're told at least 28 of the 32 arrested are getting thousands of dollars federal assistance per year. Sheriff Judd said, "Now isn't that enough to drive you out of your mind? That hard working taxpayers of this state are paying people to stay at home and sell drugs?"

Sheriff Judd says there's a push to release drug dealers early from prison, claiming they are non-violent offenders. He disagrees, saying drugs are linked to other crimes. We were told all of the suspects arrested in the raid have criminal histories, and one man has been arrested 40 times. Authorities in Polk County have arrested 32 people for drug-related crimes. Sheriff's detectives, Bartow Police and members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force teamed up for "Operation City Sweep." They arrested 30 people Thursday in a Bartow neighborhood and two more today. Detectives are still searching for 7 more suspects. The investigation began last August.

Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall said, "Working together with the Sheriff's Office and the HIDTA Task Force, we were able to put dangerous felons in jail, get drugs and guns off the street, and improve the quality of life in this city that we love. We will continue to make arrests like these until those who prey upon the good citizens of Bartow with their illicit lifestyles are all behind bars."

Investigators raided a home on Gibbons Street, in Bartow, Thursday. Sheriff Grady Judd says Ruby Ellen and her family have been selling drugs from there. Sheriff Judd said, "Ruby being the kind of grandma she was, was allowing one of the children to watch cartoons. Of course he had to look over the stack of cash and crack cocaine in order to see the TV screen."

That worries Henry Mathis, who says he's scared to come outside at night. He lives down the street from Ellen. His friends also live there and there's a school just blocks away. Mathis said, "Very concerned because you've got young kids out here. They don't need to see that kind of stuff."

Sheriff Judd said, "The reality is this is the people that are selling drugs to the children of this community and this is the kind of folks that we've got to get off the street." But, Sheriff Judd says that's not the only problem. We're told at least 28 of the 32 arrested are getting thousands of dollars federal assistance per year. Sheriff Judd said, "Now isn't that enough to drive you out of your mind? That hard working taxpayers of this state are paying people to stay at home and sell drugs?"

Sheriff Judd says there's a push to release drug dealers early from prison, claiming they're non-violent offenders. He disagrees, saying drugs are linked to other crimes. We're told all of the suspects arrested in the raid have criminal histories and one man has been arrested 40 times.

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