Sarasota police say they have pulled dozens of suspected drug dealers off the streets.
On Tuesday, police announced 36 people were arrested as part of “Operation Rock Solid.” The arrests were made in a roundup after the completion of the investigation.
Two others have not been arrested, but are wanted by police. If they are not found, warrants for their arrests will be filed.
The operation started in July and lasted approximately four months. Most of the drugs purchased as part of the undercover operation were crack cocaine, according to police.
Some marijuana, MDMA and spice were also recovered by police as part of the investigation. Two guns were seized.
Crime mapping, citizen complaints and criminal intelligence information were used to identify areas in Sarasota where “open air” drug activity was taking place and undercover detectives identified and purchased from alleged dealers in these areas, Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said.
DiPino said the operation was named “Rock Solid” because most of the drugs involved were rock or crack cocaine and the cases are “rock solid from a prosecution perspective.”
As a group, those arrested had a combined 619 prior felony charges, with 252 of those charges resulting in felony convictions, according to police.
Most who were arrested were charged with sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park or school; however, several men face charges of sale of a controlled substance (spice).
Steven Vega was charged with trafficking cocaine.
Zachary Yancy was charged with possession of cocaine, MDMA and marijuana.
Three women were arrested: Ashley Cosh, Heather L. Cousins and Diana Josey, all charged with sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park. All have at least one prior felony conviction, according to police. Cosh also faces two counts of principal sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park.
DiPino said two men arrested had more than 20 prior felony convictions each: Timothy Leverett and Robert Littmon. Both are charged with the sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park.
Two of the men arrested have been federally indicted: Tyrone Yancey and Charles Tigget. Yancey is charged with sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, while Tigget is charged with sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park.
“We are going to be committed to coming out, we’re going to find you, we are going to arrest you and we’re going to bring you to justice,” DiPino said in a message to drug dealers. “If you’re a drug dealer, find another line of work.
“You’re not going to sell drugs in our community.”