Operation Rock Star Big Success
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 New.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office, Palatka Police Department and FDLE have been working all day to arrest nearly 100 suspects involved in illegal drug sales, some dating back to April 2007. As of Wednesday evening, they had nabbed more than half their wanted list.
The latest count is 50 targeted arrests, plus four more on other outstanding warrants, and several more that promised over the phone to turn themselves in. Sheriff Dean Kelly says this isn't about getting the small time drug dealers, but the career criminals.
It was a parade of arrested persons into the Putnam County Agriculture Center. But these people were wanted for dealing not with oranges and peanuts, but cocaine, meth, marijuana and ecstasy.
Former County Commissioner and School Board member Samuel Taylor says he sees it all the time outside his home in East Palatka.
"I see them driving by, blowing their horns, all that," says Taylor. "But they come down the road, come back again. I've seen them pass by 4 or 5 times before they get their drugs."
So the Sheriff's Office brought out all the stops with a special mobile dispatch center just to deal with Operation Rock Star. Some cases date back to april 2007... but the majority are from the last six months using 17 undercover officers.
"They are doing a great job, a lot of work they do they don't get a lot of appreciation for it but they're doing a good job," says Taylor.
The 91 targeted suspects have combined for more than 1600 previous arrests... with one man being arrested today for the 101st time. More than half have an arrest for violence in their past. And though this parade may not have pretty floats, it's one Taylor doesn't mind seeing.
"It's great, that's a lot of people," says Taylor. "I didn't think that many people were in it, but you see a lot of them out there, but you didn't know they were into it."
The State Attorney promised if you make a sale, you will go to jail and committed to getting prison sentences for each.
Sheriff Dean Kelly had to borrow some mattresses so he could house all the suspects at the jail. He added, it doesn't stop here... they were dealing with supply today... they will be dealing with the demand in the future.