Southwest Florida Strike Force targets prescription drug violators in “Operation Southwest Shopper”

January 24, 2012

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Ft. Myers Regional Operations Center, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the Desoto County Sheriff’s Office, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the Cape Coral Police Department, the Ft. Myers Police Department, the Marco Island Police Department, the Naples Police Department, the North Port Police Department, the Punta Gorda Police Department, the Sarasota Police Department, the Venice Police Department, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Florida Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco announce the arrest of 50 individuals in “Operation Southwest Shopper.” The multi-county sweep targeted Southwest Florida residents who were attempting to make illegal prescription drug purchases.

“Illegal prescription drug trafficking does not recognize jurisdictional boundaries, so fighting this form of crime effectively requires a cooperative and coordinated effort,” said Sarasota County Sheriff Thomas M. Knight, RDESF co-chair of region six. “As the results of this initiative clearly show, our efforts to combine forces is working.”

“The recent arrests are an excellent example of the Strike Force commitment to combating the abuse of prescription drugs in our neighborhoods. These medications are highly addictive and senseless deaths continue to occur throughout Florida,” said Naples Police Chief Tom Weschler. RDESF co-chair of region six. “Law enforcement and an assortment of government agencies have partnered as one to continue to fight this epidemic that plagues our communities.”

“The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office recognizes that the illegal sale and distribution of prescription drugs is a major problem facing our community,” said Charlotte County Sheriff William Cameron. “As an active member agency in the strike force we realize that it takes the collected efforts at the local, county and state levels to end this blight.”

In March 2011, Governor Scott announced a Statewide Drug Strike Force, headed by FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, to combat the criminal distribution of prescription drugs in Florida. With support from Attorney General Pam Bondi and state and local law enforcement leaders, the Strike Force is charged with stopping the flow of dangerous drugs into communities by disrupting the major illegal supply and distribution points.

For 2011, Regional Drug Enforcement Strike Force members’ efforts statewide have resulted in 1794 arrests (including 31 doctors) and the seizure of 433,466 pharmaceutical pills, 49 vehicles, 379 weapons, and $4,537,310. Additionally, 27 clinics have been closed.

For Further Information Contact:
Gretl Plessinger, Keith Kameg or Kristi Gordon
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001