~ Multi-agency operation targets transporters of illicit contraband ~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Recently, teams from the Florida Highway Patrol’s (FHP) Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and Criminal Interdiction Unit hosted a week-long Commercial Motor Vehicle Drug Interdiction Assistance Program (DIAP) with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. The program trains law enforcement on how to detect and apprehend transporters and/or users of illicit contraband engaged in commercial vehicle operations on Florida’s roadways. The program concluded with “Operation Ground Up,” an enforcement detail in the Ft. Myers region, which resulted in multiple drug arrests and seizures.
Throughout the operation, FHP and participating law enforcement officers made 327 traffic stops, issued 100 citations and conducted 100 commercial vehicle inspections. The proactive enforcement from “Operation Ground Up” resulted in the seizure of 6.8 grams of crack cocaine, 7.2 grams of heroin, 73 grams of bath salts, 422 grams of marijuana, 13 doses of OxyContin, seven doses of Adderall and one dose of Clonazepam.
Governor Rick Scott said, “I’d like to thank the Florida Highway Patrol for their commitment to protecting Florida’s families and communities. It is because of Florida’s brave law enforcement officers that we are at a 45-year low crime rate.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “This well-executed operation seized massive quantities of dangerous drugs before they could be sold on our streets and poison our citizens. Our nation is battling a national opioid epidemic, and I want to thank FHP, FDLE, DEA and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office for this coordinated effort to stop the influx of deadly drugs into Florida.”
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said, “I applaud FHP and all of the law enforcement agencies that partnered in this operation to crack down on drug trafficking in our state. We must remain dedicated to keeping dangerous drugs out of our communities.”
“Operation Ground Up is a prime example of the positive outcomes that arise from inter-agency collaboration,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “Thank you to these hard-working, heroic men and women for working together to get illegal drugs off of Florida’s streets.”
“The drug epidemic is a serious issue across our nation and the FHP is committed to ensuring these drugs are not being transported on our roadways,” said DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “I am extremely proud of the results of this operation because keeping the seized drugs off the road and performing these commercial vehicle inspections undoubtedly saved numerous lives.”
“FHP is committed to removing these dangerous drugs from our roadways, ultimately preventing them from ending up in our communities,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “The FHP will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners on such initiatives to pave the way to A Safer Florida.”
“Operation Ground Up” is the first time that the FHP has initiated a field operation in conjunction with the DIAP training course. The enforcement detail took place in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.
“The DEA continues to commit its support to our law enforcement partners in all areas. Our collaborative efforts in this operation show our dedication and persistence in ensuring safety on the roads, as well as all public venues,” said Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Miami Field Division. “We want everyone to arrive at their destinations alive and unharmed.”
“FDLE is committed to participating in these cases because we cannot successfully fight illegal drugs without limiting drug availability,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.
The focus of the DIAP program is the development and distribution of criminal interdiction techniques to rapidly identify in-transit commercial motor vehicles and drivers engaged in criminal activity. The FHP’s goal was to provide enhanced training techniques by instructor-led training followed immediately by an enforcement operation to reinforce classroom exercises.