V.M. Ybor residents voice concerns about alleged drug activity in their community

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) — People in Tampa’s V.M. Ybor neighborhood say drug activity is out of hand and they need help. Residents took their concerns to social media.

Sandra Thomas has lived in V.M. Ybor for only a year, but she says she’s seen enough.

“It’s all activity that goes on behind me it’s terrible,” Thomas said. “It’s scary back there.”

She’s one of many people in the area who say drug activity is rampant in the Nebraska Avenue corridor near 24th street.

Neighbors told 8 On Your Side they’ve reached out to police and city leaders in the past, but the issue will not go away.

City councilman Orlando Gudes said he’s aware of the concerns.

“I feel for the folks in V.M. Ybor,” Gudes said. “We’ve had drugs in that area a long time, we can clean it up but it does come back.”

Gudes said the area is where many homeless people are. He said there are also concerns surrounding Trinity Cafe, and his office has worked on combating some of the issues. He plans on setting up a meeting with County Commissioner Myers to come up with solutions for the area. 

“We have to be a good steward to clean up after ourselves,” Gudes said. “A lot of times our homeless don’t clean up after themselves, and those who are going to feed need to be responsible to make sure once they feed to clean up the mess these people have made.”

“My office has been working with our legal counsel,” Gudes said. “If I can talk with commissioner Myers in reference to the funding that is given to Trinity Cafe and maybe incorporate in that funding some type of cleanup efforts so when they have these feedings we can have a crew cleanup after they make their mess.”

Thomas hopes something changes sooner, rather than later.

“I’m looking for a house now because I like over here, I do, but if it gets worse we’re going to go,” Thomas said.

The East Tampa Community Advisory Committee is meeting Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Ragan Park Community Center and several V.M. Ybor residents said they plan on going.

Tampa Police told 8 On Your Side an email Monday afternoon that officers responded to 26 narcotics law-related calls in the last three months in the V.M. Ybor area. The department’s full email is below:

In the past 3 months, there have been 26 calls that were originally classified as ‘narcotics law’-related concerns that were within the VM Ybor area, for 21 individual events (5 calls were related to an already generated call for service at the time they came in). These calls for service were initiated as a result of calls from community members to our Communications Center, anonymous tips to the police, and officer-initiated activity. I would need a timeframe to compare the level of presence in the area; but, I can clearly state that officers work closely with the community to address quality of life concerns as quickly as possible. While VM Ybor is not known for a high level of illegal narcotics activity, any use of illegal narcotics is, understandably, a concern for the officers assigned that area as well as the residents who live there.

We will continue to address any ongoing concerns as well as our pro-active approach in dealing with any use of illegal narcotics. We encourage the community, regardless of the area, to do the same and keep us informed when they witness illegal activity.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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