BRADENTON -- Police have obtained an arrest warrant for a suspected heroin trafficker after he was not found during a search of his Bradenton home Wednesday, according to the Bradenton Police Department.
Due to the increased amount of heroin overdoses in the past several months, the BPD and Manatee and Sarasota county sheriff's offices have been intensely investigating heroin trafficking in the area, according to the release.
Lt. James Racky, BPD spokesman, said Ryan Sherman, 26, was one of many people identified as possible heroin dealers.
Undercover officers reportedly bought heroin from Sherman several times over the past few months, totaling at least 7 grams, which is enough for a first-degree felony heroin trafficking charge.
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Police executed a search warrant at Sherman's apartment in the 1900 block of 17th Street West but Sherman was not found.
Kennesha Belvin, 23, was at the home, arrested and charged with selling heroin and possession of heroin, according to the release. Racky described her as Sherman's assistant, who would facilitate deals for him.
She was released from the Manatee County jail Thursday on $9,000 bond.
An arrest warrant was issued for Sherman, who police said has ties to several homes in Manatee County and in Ruskin.
"The apartment where the search warrant was executed was where our officers conducted transactions with him, but he has family and friends in the area," Racky said.
Sherman faces charges of trafficking in heroin and sale of heroin.
"This is all targeted toward the heroin epidemic," Racky said. "Heroin will never completely go away, but we're trying to do our part and do what we can to protect people."
Sherman spent a year in
the county jail in 2009 after he was convicted of selling cocaine, and another 20 months in prison in 2011 for violating probation. He was charged with motor vehicle theft, marijuana possession and cocaine possession in 2013, but the charges were dropped.
Sherman was also charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery on a pregnant woman after he allegedly attacked Belvin in 2013 when she was six months pregnant with his child. Sherman reportedly punched Belvin in the face and body multiple times, kicked her and elbowed her in the stomach. He also held a knife to her neck and threatened to "kill everyone" if he didn't get his cell phone, according to the arrest report.
Those charges were dropped.
Anyone with information on this case can call the BPD Narcotics Division at 941-932-9316, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 contact Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 (TIPS) or go to manateecrimestoppers.com.