Eight charged in suspected drug operation in Newtown

Eight men have been charged in connection with an alleged drug ring in north Sarasota.
Eight men have been charged in connection with an alleged drug ring in north Sarasota.(SCSO)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:46 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Six people have been arrested and two other are on the run after a six-month investigation into a drug operation that allegedly sold drugs near an elementary school in Newtown.

In February, The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office detectives partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in response to recent drug sales and gun violence occurring in the 2200 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Way.

Over several months, detectives identified eight people with ties to criminal activity that originated in the parking lot of the Purple Store, near the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Way and Colson Avenue.

The sheriff’s office says collectively, the eight suspects have 131 prior felony charges with 76 convictions and 112 previous misdemeanor charges with 47 convictions.

“In this situation, drugs and guns were being sold across the street from an elementary school, public library, and afterschool care program,” said Sheriff Kurt Hoffman. “While these arrests are significant, our efforts will not stop here. We will continue to monitor this corridor and interrupt criminal activity to protect our citizens and, more importantly, our children.”

Those charged are:

  • Lamont Brookins, 33, is charged with two counts of sale of fentanyl within 1,000 feet of a school, one count of principal to sale of fentanyl within 1,000 feet of a school, and a single count of unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
  • Isaiah Bryant, 24, is charged with sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, sale of cocaine, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
  • Robert Gambles Jr., 40, is charged with a single count of sale of fentanyl.
  • Christopher Phillips, 47, is charged with two counts of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • Yvens Philone, 34, is charged with five counts of possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted felon, two counts of armed trafficking in fentanyl, a single count of armed trafficking in methamphetamine, a single count of trafficking in methamphetamine, sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
  • Tiarra Stanford, 36, is charged with a single count of sale of cocaine.
  • Gregory Swain, 29, is charged with trafficking in cocaine, sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, two counts of sale of cocaine, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
  • Franklin Willis, 30, is charged with two counts of possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted felon, two counts of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, a single count of sale of fentanyl within 1,000 feet of a school, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.

Both Phillips and Swain are still at large; warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to contact detectives at 941-861-4900 or submit a tip through Crime Stoppers of Sarasota County by dialing 941-366-TIPS.

One of the weapons seized in a recent mass arrest in north Sarasota.
One of the weapons seized in a recent mass arrest in north Sarasota.(SCSO)

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