Thirty-five people have been arrested as part of an undercover operation targeting open-air drug dealing in the city, Sarasota police said Thursday.
“Our goal is to stop open-air drug markets in the city of Sarasota,” said Capt. Corinne Stannish of the police department’s Criminal Investigation Division. “This is about continuing to make our neighborhoods safe and stop major distributors and drug traffickers in our area.”
Operation Fresh Start “was conducted using undercover detectives who made drug buys from suspected street level dealers in areas that intelligence-led policing proved to be highest in drug crimes,” police said in a news release.
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The operation took place between April and September and involved officers from the department’s narcotics and street crimes units, police said.
“The purpose was to target street-level drug dealers within the city of Sarasota,” police said.
The 35 suspects face various charges, including sale of heroin, sale of rock cocaine, sale of rock cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park, church and public housings, and sale of controlled substance. The suspects have a total 327 prior felony convictions, police said.
Most of the suspects are from Sarasota, but they also include a suspect from Bradenton and another from St. Petersburg.
Police are also looking for two more suspects, Glenford A. Bryan, 29, and Cordarryl M. Rogers, 28, both of Sarasota, on charges they sold drugs.
In addition to those arrested, three others have been offered the chance to enter a deferred prosecution program, because they do not have prior arrests for crimes involving violence or firearms. The original charges can be re-filed if they are arrested in the future, police said.
In addition to heroin and cocaine, other drugs involved include marijuana and carfentanil, a powerful narcotic that authorities say they have found mixed with heroin.