Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Bust 2 Drug Crews; Seize Guns, Cash, Cocaine; Sheriff Rutherford Said Arrests Involve Violent Felons; Accused Kingpin Still at Large

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Bust 2 Drug Crews; Seize Guns, Cash, Cocaine; Sheriff Rutherford Said Arrests Involve Violent Felons; Accused Kingpin Still at Large

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler

Jacksonville drug dealers continue to help a police force that stings them and a public who loathes them.

Sheriff John Rutherford said Tuesday that a yearlong drug investigation by the Sheriff's Office and other agencies led to the dismantling of two local drug crews with sources in Miami and Texas. Police arrested 10 people, seized 24 pounds of cocaine, a pound of marijuana, four guns and nine vehicles. They are continuing to hunt for the kingpin. The cocaine is worth as much as $880,000, the sheriff said.

Rutherford predicted the busts will temporarily impact some drug sales by cutting the supply and driving up the costs. He also said the arrests involved numerous violent felons - ergo the name Operation Deja Vu - and will help prevent a homicide waiting to happen.

But Rutherford also touted the bonanza likely to come from seizure of $386,000 in cash and bank accounts that may yield another $100,000.

Large amounts of drug money, often forfeited in such cases, can be used by police agencies for everything from purchasing weapons to buying life-saving equipment for the public.

Police departments must abide by state law that governs how the money is spent, including 15 percent that must go to crime-fighting nonprofits. Police agencies are not allowed to spend it on recurring operating costs.

Rutherford said his officers carry guns and Tasers bought with seized drug money, while other seized funds were used to equip 200 police cars with defibrillators for heart patients. No immediate plans have been made for the newly seized bankroll, but Rutherford promised it would be put to good use if it is legally forfeited.

"I can't think of a better way to use as doper's money than repairing, in our community, the damages that they have done," Rutherford said.

Police identified 14 suspects from the two drug crews and arrested 10 on charges of conspiring to traffic in cocaine. Accused kingpin Jamael Tyson, 33, and another suspect remain at large. Two other suspects are cooperating with police and have not been charged.

The Sheriff's Office is the primary investigating agency. …

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