Flagler County, FL – In Flagler County, a Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA) initiative dubbed “Operation Spring Cleaning” has resulted in the arrest of dozens of drug dealers and the seizure of pounds of illicit drugs and multiple firearms.
On Tuesday, Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly, Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood, and Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach held a joint press conference to discuss the impact of the initiative on their respective jurisdictions. Hosted by the FSA, Operation Spring Cleaning was a partnership between 27 Florida Counties dedicated to targeting drug manufacturers and traffickers throughout Florida.
During the operation, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) arrested 45 drug dealers, seized over 10 pounds of controlled substances, and confiscated 14 firearms.
“Our Special Investigations Unit and Community Policing Division are working tirelessly to get this poison off the streets and the dealers behind bars,” said Staly. “Forty-five people have been charged since the start of this operation on October 1, 2017, two of which are juveniles under 18-years-old. Nearly ten-and-a-half pounds of illegal narcotics have been removed from the community and over $57,000 in drug dealer assets has been seized. Our team is getting results.”
The following list details the specifics of the operation in Flagler County:
- 45 persons arrested or charged for trafficking in controlled substances listed under Florida
Statute 893.03/sale and delivery
- 4,753 grams of controlled substances confiscated
- 14 firearms seized
- 3 arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- $57,778 seized drug proceeds
Some of the operation’s most notable cases included the November 2017 arrest of Joseph Colon on charges of Trafficking in Hydromorphone, Possession of Heroin, Crack Cocaine and Alprazolam with intent to distribute, Possession of Oxycodone, and Driving with a Suspended License. On February 21, 2018, while in custody at the Flagler County Jail, Colon was indicted for 1st Degree Murder in the overdose death of Savannah DeAngelis. The FCSO explains that Florida State Statute 782.04 now allows drug traffickers to be charged with murder in overdose death cases. Earlier reporting on this story can be found here.
Another significant arrest was that of Charles Eugene Rushing-Griffen in December 2017. Rushing-Griffen was charged with robbery with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and driving with a suspended license after robbing a Palm Coast Shell gas station at gunpoint. He later racked up charges for the robbery of Terranova’s Pizzeria in Bunnell and the attempted robbery of a Palm Coast Mobil gas station as well. On February 21, Rushing-Griffen pleaded to 30 years in prison for his crimes.
Another focus of the operation related to the purchase of marijuana from Morgan Byrnes, a convicted felon, during an undercover investigation. On February 1, the FCSO executed a search warrant at Byrnes’ home to find a large quantity of Cannabis and 12 firearms. Upon her arrest, the guns and drugs were seized and $8,433 in suspected drug proceeds were forfeited.
The FCSO notes that further investigation revealed Felix Vega was Byrnes’ co-conspirator. On March 1, the FCSO executed a search warrant at Vega’s home to find 5.3 pounds of Cannabis, 1.5 pounds of THC Hash Oil, and $46,222 in suspected drug proceeds.
According to reports made by Florida’s medical examiners, 704 people died as a result of a Fentanyl-related overdose during the first half of 2016. This epidemic resulted in the passing of Florida House Bill 477, which enhances penalties for drug dealers and traffickers. Operation Spring Cleaning subsequently focused on the sale of highly abused drugs. The operation also follows two of the FSA’s business operations goals: fostering effective law enforcement and crime prevention and promoting the activities of Sheriffs.
Photo courtesy FCSO.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.