SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a crackdown on crime so big even other law enforcement agencies are taking notice.
Sarasota police teamed up with state and national agencies using cutting-edge techniques to put these criminals behind bars.
‘Operation SURGE’ recovered an enormous haul of drugs and weapons. The reason behind the operation for Sarasota Unified Reduction Gun Enforcement, or SURGE, was to disrupt firearm violence within the City of Sarasota.
“This is the model of policing in the 21st century. The use intelligence, to go in and identify where the crimes are taking place…and then coming up with a plan,” said Daryl McCrary with ATF Tampa Field Division.
From January through September, undercover Sarasota police officers teamed up with ATF and other agencies. They used crime mapping and criminal intelligence reports to identify high crime areas.
As a result, 95 people were arrested. They also recovered drugs like cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. They also seized 82 illegal firearms, including rifles and shotguns.
“You count the number of bullets in those guns, and the number of guns, you’re talking hundreds and hundreds of lives that were spared,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino.
In all, these suspects have more than 2,500 combined prior charges and 11 people are still at large.
Those still wanted are listed below:
- J Oliver Fort, 08/28/1973
- Robert Hicks 08/19/1963
- Bobby Hudson 04/15/1986
- Reshond Keno 07/12/1991
- Tammy Lilley 02/27/1990
- Renardo McCray 01/27/1981
- Susan Rice 06/28/1962
- Barbara Schnurr 03/03/1978
- Natron Sellers 12/04/1997
- Jaron Sheppard 12/10/1991
- DeMario Thomas 08/08/1992
This massive operation was launched to address a recent trend in gun violence.
“We want to let the community know that we made good on our promise that we were going to go in and make sure we’re identifying individuals who are causing harm or could potentially cause harm to our community,” said DiPino.
Officials are hopeful this will lead to a drop in crime rates.
But there’s still more work to be done. Officials still don’t know where these illegal weapons were coming from, but they’re determined to find the source and stop it.
The Tampa ATF office says this is one of the largest busts they’ve seen in years.
The police department will conduct more operations like this in the future.