Sarasota County deputies arrested 81 people on drug-related charges in an investigation called “Operation Spring Cleaning” on May 4.
Deputies said they confiscated more than 18 pounds of controlled substances and four firearms.
Out of the 81 people arrested, 77 were drug traffickers, according to reports. The investigation focused on drug manufacturing, delivering, and trafficking of “highly abused controlled substances,” such as Fentanyl.
Florida’s medical examiners reported 704 people died of Fentanyl-related overdoses in the first half of 2016 which led to the passing of enhanced penalties for drug dealers and traffickers as seen in Florida House Bill 477.
Operation Spring Cleaning focused on capturing sales and trafficking related to highly abused controlled substances.
A recent investigation into Fentanyl-related deaths shows an increase of 97 percent in Palm Beach County in 2016, and that West Palm Beach is an “epicenter” for opioid overdoses.
In the past few years, you may have read about more and more cases in Florida that involve fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl is a Schedule II synthetic opioid drug that is about 75 times stronger than morphine. Even just trace amounts of fentanyl absorbed through the skin or inhaled can be lethal.
Florida statutes implement the following mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking in fentanyl:
- 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams: mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of $50,000
- 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams: mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of $100,000
- 28 grams or more: mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 25 years and a fine of $500,000