SARASOTA, FL--- "I want all the drug dealers out there to know this: we are coming after you," said Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette Dipino. Dipino is sending a message in the wake of what they are calling Operation Sarasota Cartel II.
"To be able to get over 12 kilos of cocaine is a significant amount of cocaine, and to be able to seize money and cars and also weapons, that is historic," added Dipino.
The joint operation included officers from the Sarasota Police Department, DEA, ATF, State Attorney's Office, the Bradenton Police Department, and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. It included search warrants for more than 5 locations throughout the two counties and netted 10 arrests.
'In this investigation they kinda dropped the net and they got the source of the supply who was bringing it up to Sarasota and they were able to grab the whole organization," said James DiCaprio with the DEA.
That included everyone from street level dealers to Alex Gomez of Miami, the person suspected of bringing the drugs into the area. For many in the Newtown Community the bust is a step in the right direction in the effort to reclaim the streets.
"We continue to strive, to have streets where our elderly are not afraid to come out and they are not held hostage in their own homes. If we could get more of the people who are supplying I think it would be awesome," said community advocate Valerie Buchand.
Still, for many the arrests comes with bitter sweet feelings.
"The government itself cripple these people to sell drugs" said Buchand. She says many of those arrested have prior felonies which prevents them from getting jobs and leaves them with nowhere else to turn, leading them to resort to a life of crime. "I always think being legal is the way to go but you got to create jobs so you can stop crippling them to continue to sell drugs or you're not going to get rid of the drug dealers because people have to make a living," added Buchand.
But for those who take the drug dealing path, Chief Dipino says her officers will be there to intervene.
"Find another place to do your drugs because it's not going to be in the city of Sarasota," added Dipino.
Officials say Operation Cartel II, is still in progress and they expect more arrest soon.