Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

1,645 Nabbed in Drug Sweep Raids Show Crack Cocaine No. 1 Problem

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

1,645 Nabbed in Drug Sweep Raids Show Crack Cocaine No. 1 Problem

Article excerpt

Three days of police undercover drug busts across Florida show

how widespread the sale and use of crack cocaine remains at

least 10 years after the problem became an epidemic statewide,

police said.

Police across Florida arrested 1,645 people Thursday, Friday

and Saturday during Operation Drug Sweep. About 1,100 of those

arrested were charged with either crack sale or possession of

crack. Other arrests primarily involved the sale and possession

of marijuana and methamphetamines.

Police said they are seeing an upswing in the demand for

marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin, but crack remains the No.

1 problem. Crack first appeared in South Florida in the early

1980s and began surfacing in Jacksonville a decade ago.

"Drugs are worse than we've ever had them before. Crack is

inundating society and it's going to be around for awhile," said

Sgt. Bob Diemer, who coordinated the statewide sweeps for the

Among those arrested buying crack in Duval County were a drug

counselor and a former PTA president. Those arrested ranged in

age from 14 to 59.

Broward County led the state with 193 arrests during the

three-day sweep. Duval County was second with 160 arrests.

The sweeps were scheduled near the beginning of school as a

warning to drug dealers that the battle to keep drugs away from

children continues, Diemer said.

Diemer, who works for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office,

said the sweeps had been planned for about three months.

"We wanted to send a clear and concise message to the community

that the sheriffs are still focusing on drugs, and to the

dealers that we're working together," Diemer said.

Diemer said he's unsure what impact the sweeps will have,

though he predicted it would temporarily dry up some drug


Hundreds of officers from small and large police departments

throughout the state took part in the sweeps. Some officers

posed as drug dealers and arrested buyers, while others posed as

buyers and arrested dealers.

In Jacksonville, about 50 undercover detectives and uniformed

officers worked from noon into the early morning each day,

sweeping neighborhoods from Lackawanna on the Westside to

Springfield near downtown to Pine Forest on the Southside. …

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