LEE COUNTY — Drug dealers, prostitutes, identity thieves and child pornographers all found themselves targets of the Lee County Sheriff's Office's latest effort to clean up the streets.
During the first two months of 2012, Lee deputies arrested more than 200 people as part of "Operation Street Sweeper," a multi-level undertaking by several units in the agency, the Sheriff's Office reported. As part of the operation, deputies seized almost $5 million in illegal drugs, money and property, officials said.
"Just as our local roadway crews sweep our streets and collect trash from the roadside, these professionals have done their own brand of clean up, " Sheriff Mike Scott said in a prepared statement.
The operation combined the efforts of the agency's highway interdiction, pharmaceutical investigations, and felony warrants units, which investigated narcotics distribution, prostitution, Internet sex crimes, identity theft, and the removal of wanted fugitives from Lee County, reports said.
The Narcotics Division's highway interdiction team busted several organized drug traffickers, the agency reported. During the operation, the team seized:
5.5 kilos of cocaine worth more than $200,000
92 pounds of marijuana worth more than $275,000
125,000 doses of Ecstasy worth more than $1 million
$88,000 in cash
$17,000 in stolen property
$50,000 of marijuana grow equipment
63 fraudulent credit cards
Deputies also made 10 identity theft arrests, which involved over 600 victims with a potential loss of $600,000.
"Interdiction efforts are off the charts," Scott said.
The Sheriff's Office Pharmaceutical Investigations Law Enforcement Strategy Unit — P.I.L.S. — wrapped up two months of activity Thursday with the arrests of 18 people suspected of "Doctor Shopping," seizing 250,000 pills worth about $3 million in the process, authorities said.
"More than half of overdoses are the result of prescription pills, not illicit drugs such heroin," Scott said.
Last week, the agency's warrants unit conducted a sweep of violent and dangerous felons, arresting 39 on a variety of charges, reports said. With the assistance of the Innocent Images Task Force, deputies arrested five men who are internet child pornography suspects, including a suspect who was apprehended in Louisiana.
Deputies also made 15 prostitution arrests, a metal theft arrest, and busted two marijuana grow houses as part of the operation, seizing 165 plants, reports said.
Scott said he believes a proactive approach to crime will be more successful than taking a reactive approach.
"No free pass in this city," Scott said. "This pressure will continue".