Sunday, April 17, 2016

Newspaper Guy Tom Lyons Complains Sarasota Cops Not Doing Enough to Curb Drug Sales Downtown But Top Cop DiPino Has Arrested 56 Drug Dealers Who's Zoomin Who?

SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE Article April 17 2016...Newspaper guy Tom Lyons says: "Sarasota neighborhood zoned for crack house"? While Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said last year after arresting 43 drug dealers "If you're going to sell drugs, don't do it in the city of Sarasota,". "Cause we're going to get you. We're going to find you." Which one is telling the truth, Lyons or DiPino? Newspaper Guy Tom Lyons implies in his article that the Sarasota Police department is not doing enough to curb drug sales in downtown Sarasota based on one interview with a resident who has been living in the drug area for only 1 1/2 years. But several drug raids by the Sarasota Police Department over the last 3 years indicate that cops have taken at least 56 street level and mid level drug dealers off the streets, all in the area that Newspaper Guy Tom Lyons complains about, Who's Zoomin Who?
By Tom Lyons
Published: Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 7:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 7:11 p.m.

A worried and angry dad contacted me (Tom Lyons) about problem neighbors who have attracted a fair amount of police attention over the past two years. Just not anywhere near enough police attention, he says, and he doesn’t get why. Sarasota Police know everything he knows about the problem, and probably more. I’ll just call the dad Mike, to make it a bit less likely he or his kids will be identified and confronted, or worse, by the proprietors of the crack cocaine dealership on their street. The dealers don’t like it when people complain about them or call cops. Mike says drug customers come by at all hours, day and night. Sometimes the residential street is blocked with their cars, but most buyers just walk up to the house’s chain link fence to exchange money for drugs with the guy on the other side. He says police have told him to call any time he sees this happening. That suggestion makes him laugh sarcastically. “I’d never hang up,” he told me (Tom Lyons). It has been that way for the year and a half plus that he has lived in his rented house a few blocks north of downtown, in a mixed-race neighborhood just east of Cocoanut Avenue (Central Ave), and people there have called cops.
TAMPA TRIBUNE Published: September 4, 2013.....Neighborhood complaints led Sarasota police to check a house for drug activity and that investigation yielded two arrests and the confiscation of drugs this morning. The Sarasota Police Department Narcotics Unit, with the assistance of the Street Crimes Unit, executed a search warrant at 1925 Central Ave. Sarasota Fl, and found seven individuals including three small children inside. Herman N. Taylor, 32, is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a church, possession of marijuana less than 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police found several baggies containing cocaine, three digital scales and a marijuana cigarette. He is being held on $21,000 bond. Letrece S. Jones, 30, is charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana less than 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police found cocaine, marijuana and a marijuana grinder in her purse. She is being held on $2,500 bond. Detectives seized 23 grams of powder cocaine, two grams of marijuana and $715 cash in the house.

Sarasota Herald Tribune: On Tuesday 2/4/2014, the Sarasota Police department announced the results of an 18-month investigation called Operation Sarasota Cartel II. A similar sting was conducted from 2008 to 2012. Ten people were arrested, $115,000 in cash was seized, $1 million worth of powder cocaine — 12 kilos — was recovered and five cars were confiscated. The suspects, who have extensive criminal histories, face anywhere from three to 15 years in prison. “Our main goal was to dismantle a local drug organization from bottom to top,” Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said. 
It all started when undercover detectives gained information regarding alleged street-level drug dealer Irvin Brown, 26, who operated in the area of Leon Avenue — where the police department’s block party was held last month. “We monitored his activities for a length of time and he was able to lead us to the distributor,” Lt. Pat Ledwith said. Both Roderick Shannon, 44, and Al Muta Hawks, 36, were allegedly dealing in one to nine ounces of cocaine at a time as “mid-level distributors,” Ledwith said. Eventually, detectives tracked the activity to kingpin source Alex Gomez, 46, who was allegedly supplying kilos of cocaine to those distributors and dealers. Gomez, who is from Miami, has previously served prison time for trafficking cocaine, Ledwith said.

SARASOTA June 13, 2015-- More than 40 people with a total of 316 felony convictions were arrested Friday following a six-month-long undercover operation in Sarasota. Operation Safe Neighborhood, which led to 43 arrests, targeted street-level drug dealers, according to the Sarasota Police Department. Undercover detectives bought drugs from people in the city based on community tips and police intelligence starting in December 2014. "This is the most people we've ever arrested in a street-level operation," said Lt. James Rieser at a press conference Friday morning. Charges include selling rock cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, church or park; sale of heroin; sale of controlled substances; and the sale of designer drugs. Police said most drugs found were cocaine and heroin. "No one was injured in any of these operations," said Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. Seven drug buys were conducted in the Gillespie Park area, nine in the North Tamiami Trail area, 13 near Central Avenue and Cocoanut Avenue and 15 in the area of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Sara Scott has the most previous felony convictions at 19, which include cocaine possession, prostitution and escape from prison.

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1156 Cocoanut Avenue, Sarasota, FL
On Friday, April 8, 2016, the Sarasota Police Department Narcotics Unit, with the assistance of the Street Crimes Unit and Intelligence Unit, executed a search warrant at MB Customs Auto Shop, 1940 11th Street, Sarasota. The search warrant was obtained as a result of an investigation into illegal drug sales from business by the business owner. As a result of the warrant, Melquisedec Betancourt, Jr., was arrested and charged with numerous narcotics related charges. At MB Custom Auto Shop Detectives seized: 22.7 grams of powder cocaine, 12.9 grams of rock cocaine, 292.9 grams of marijuana, 1.8 grams of MDMA (ecstasy), $745 U.S. currency and (2) vehicles. (2006 Cadillac DTS and 2006 Mercedes Benz CLK330). 
On Thursday, April 7, 2016, the Sarasota Police Department Narcotics Unit, with the assistance of the Street Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at 1156 Cocoanut Avenue, Sarasota. The search warrant was obtained as a result of an investigation of illegal narcotics being sold by the residents of the address. Upon execution of the warrant, two individuals were arrested and charged with drug related crimes. Detectives seized: 29 grams of rock cocaine, 9.3 grams of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $2,155 U.S. currency. The investigation is ongoing.

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