SARASOTA CO., Fla. (WWSB) -- An enforcement campaign targeting opiate use, abuse and addiction resulted in the arrests of 28 individuals by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight released the results of "Operation Spring Smack Down Friday.
From March 1 to 31, detectives worked to address opiate trends, patterns and hot-spots, and worked to locate individuals wanted in connection with drug crimes. In all, 28 people were arrested on 95 total charges. The arrest history of the suspects includes a combined 332 prior felony charges and 267 prior misdemeanor charges.
As a result of the operation, detectives recovered a shotgun, mask and gloves during a traffic stop involving Hayden Litz, a convicted felon with prior arrests in both Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Another noteworthy arrest was Finesse Lagler, charged with Child Neglect, after detectives watched her boyfriend inject her with a syringe as a 3-year-old child in her care walked dangerously close to traffic.
During an investigation that ran concurrent to the operation, detectives seized dozens of pills presumed to be oxycodone but after testing, were determined to be fentanyl in a pill form.
The operation was conducted in response to the national heroin "epidemic", as identified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Due to its accessibility, cost and high purity, heroin has become an attractive alternative to users of pharmaceutical opioid drugs.
In terms of the local impact, since January 1, 2017, the sheriff's office has investigated 71 heroin-related overdoses to include 14 deaths. In the month of March alone, deputies responded to 32 overdoses compared to only 10 during the same time period in 2016.