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Cook: Sheriff’s office dropping hammer on suspected drug dealers

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 6/1/23

ORANGE PARK – It’s called Hammer and Hope for a reason.

While more than 20 organizations have united to provide the hope portion of the program by helping those fighting opioid addictions, the …

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Cook: Sheriff’s office dropping hammer on suspected drug dealers


Posted

ORANGE PARK – It’s called Hammer and Hope for a reason.

While more than 20 organizations have united to provide the hope portion of the program by helping those fighting opioid addictions, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said the hammer side has resulted in 57 arrest warrants.

Sheriff Michelle Cook said her agency would remain diligent in removing the “plague” of drugs. And with 52 people already charged and booked, she vowed to track down anyone who peddles illegal narcotics.

“The Clay County Sheriff’s office recently had the largest drug bust in Clay County history, seizing enough fentanyl to kill four million people,” she said. “Since the announcement of that drug bust, our detectives have continued to work the various investigative units, and today (May 24), I want to update the drug seizure totals attributed directly to Operation Lucky 7’s.

In total, 3,519 grams of cocaine, 5,400 grams of methamphetamine and 12,480 grams of fentanyl have been removed from our streets. In addition, we are up to $334,651 of drug dealer money seized, and we’ve seized 31 illegally owned firearms.”

Cook called a press conference two days ahead of a community support program to get addicts – and their family members – the help they need. Cook said the two-pronged approach has made a difference.

“Just since January of this year – our narcotics team this does not count totals from our patrol division, which does a phenomenal job of taking drugs off the streets as well – but just our narcotics team have removed from Clay County streets, an additional 450 grams of cocaine 285 grams of methamphetamine and 470 grams of fentanyl.”

CCSO also caught 52 of 57 people suspected of selling, possessing or trafficking drugs. She said five – Harley Pearson, Austin Downs, Michael Van Ness, Alphonse Flores and Paul Simmons – remain at large.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call (904) 264-6512 or leave a tip on the SaferWatch app.

“Drug addiction, particularly opioids, is a horrific issue plaguing our nation,” she said. “This crisis has devastated countless lives. One particular opioid, fentanyl, has earned a chilling nickname the silent killer. It’s 50 times stronger than heroin, and it’s being mixed with other dangerous drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. What makes fentanyl scary is that it’s tasteless and odorless. Even a small amount, as small as a grain of salt, can cause a fatal overdose. In reality, fentanyl is now responsible for more deaths among Americans under 50 than other causes, including heart disease, cancer, homicide, suicide and accidents. As law enforcement, emergency medical responders and community organizations here in Clay County, we continue to work together to fight this plague. We do that first with strategic and deliberate investigations targeting drug dealers and then with purposeful outreach to assist those who are fighting addiction. We must and will continue to raise awareness and take action to save lives.”