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Palm Coast Wednesday, May 2, 2018 6 months ago

Deputies arrest 45 on drug charges in ‘Operation Spring Cleaning’

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The multi-agency initiative began Oct. 1.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Flagler County deputies have arrested 45 people on drug charges as part of Operation Spring Cleaning, a multi-agency effort hosted by the Florida Sheriff’s Association to remove drugs and dealers from communities.

The seven-month investigation began Oct. 1, 2017, involved 27 agencies and ended April 30. Statewide, law enforcement officers arrested 4,988 people and seized 27,364 pounds of illegal drugs — more than 13.5 tons — and 1,679 guns.

“I think one of the takeaways from this operation ... among the sheriffs is: Drug dealers, there are no boundaries,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said during a May 1 joint press conference with Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach. “We’re going to come after you no matter if you’re selling your poison in Volusia, Putnam, Jacksonville or Key West. We all work together, and we’re going to go after you and fill up our jails.”

In Flagler County, deputies seized and $57,778 of drug proceeds, 4,753 grams of controlled substances and 14 firearms. In Volusia County, deputies 74 people and seized approximately 2,600 grams of cocaine, 3,100 grams of heroin, 1,400 grams of opioid pills and 54 guns. In Putnam County, deputies arrested 41 people and seized 5,337 grams of controlled substances and 11 guns.

Statewide, according to a news release from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, medical examiners reported that 704 people died of Fentanyl-related overdoses in the first half of 2016. 

Notable cases related to the operation, according to the news release, include:

  • Nov. 6: Joseph Colon was arrested and charged with trafficking in Hydromorphone, possession of heroin, crack cocaine and Alprazolam with intent to distribute, possession of Oxycodone and driving with a suspended license. On Feb. 21, a grand jury indicted Colon on a charge of first-degree murder in the overdose death of Savannah DeAngelis under a new Florida law that allows drug dealers to be charged with murder for deaths resulting from an overdose. 
  • Dec. 15: Charles Eugene Rushing-Griffen was arrested and charged with robbery with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and driving with a suspended license after robbing the Shell gas station on Palm Coast Parkway at gunpoint. More charges were later added for an armed robbery of Terranova’s Pizzeria in Bunnell and an attempted robbery of a Mobil station in Palm Coast. On Feb. 21, Rushing-Griffen pleaded to 30 years in prison.
  • Feb. 1: Morgan Byrnes was arrested after a search of Byrnes’ home revealed a large amount of cannabis and 12 guns. Byrnes is a convicted felon and cannot legally own firearms. Byrnes was arrested and forfeited $8,433 in suspected drug proceeds.

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