MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Local and federal agencies announced a massive investigation, Tuesday, that ended with 34 suspected drug dealers behind bars.
Authorities said they are waiting on indictments for about 20 more suspected drug traffickers.
“Today is the end of the road for this drug trafficking network,” DEA Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Jaime Camacho, said.
The Manatee County Sheriff said they have zero tolerance for drugs in the community. Those arrested were accused of trafficking fentanyl and fentanyl laced heroin in Manatee County and in surrounding areas.
ABC Action News learned in 2015 those areas noticed a massive increase in heroin and fentanyl overdoses. The Manatee County Sheriff said in the last 6 months they have noticed a significant decrease in overdoses and deaths.
“We’re not up here today to pound our chest and to make it appear that we have eliminated the problem. This is only the beginning. We are far from done,” Sheriff Rick Wells said.
Sheriff Wells said they will not stop getting drug dealers off the streets. He believes they have made a difference. The investigation lasted 11 months and was called “Operation Hot Batch”.
“We always know that there is another dealer coming out. We always know that there will be someone trying to make a profit and that’s why they need to know that we are not going to go away,” Sheriff Wells said.
According to the sheriff, the people who were arrested face federal charges.
“As of today, we have stopped the flow of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of heroin into our communities and I think that it is safe to say that we saved many lives,” Camacho said.