FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - Nineteen of 34 people have been arrested in Flagler County after deputies said they've been legally obtaining prescriptions and then selling them.
Investigators dubbed the warrant sweep Operation Jingle Cell, the result of a six-month investigation.
They said it wasn't an organized drug ring, though they're trying to figure out the doctors who wrote the prescriptions.
"These arrests will have a significant impact on interrupting drug activity in this county," said Flagler County Sheriff James Manfre. "A quick look at the backgrounds of these folks tells us they are not new to this illegal trafficking. Most all of them have prior arrests and convictions for a variety of crimes."
One of the cases involved the arrest of a family of four who were all involved in drug activity, deputies said. The family consists of Gilbert Bridewell, 70, his wife, Sheila, 61, and sons Tyler Bridewell, 21, and Brad Turner, 32.
Deputies said Gilbert Bridewell was obtaining prescriptions through the VA Hospital, and he and his relatives were selling them on the streets. Gilbert was charged with trafficking oxycodone. Sheila and Tyler were charged with sale of morphine, and Turner was charged with sale of a controlled substance.
"Hopefully this will be convincing people that they may be caught trying to turn their pills into money, they will stop doing it," Manfre said.
The charges listed on the other arrest warrants range from sale of a controlled substance to trafficking in hydrocodone.
"Several of these arrests are the result of obtaining and selling illegal prescription drugs," Manfre said. "This is not unique to Flagler County. This epidemic of abuse of prescription drugs is a nationwide problem that is ruining families."
The sheriff said one of the things that makes cracking down on the illegal sales of prescription drugs difficult is that unlike some of the other commonly used drugs, there isn't usually an organized trafficking network.
"When you have a network, you can pick guys off at the bottom that lead you to the top," he said. "When you have a lot of people at the bottom, you have to pick them all off individually to make an impact in the community."
"It's a quick, cheap high for our young adults," Manfre added. "That is what concerns me as a parent of a high school child, and I think concerns other parents."
The sheriff is asking anybody who has information about the suspects who haven't been arrested to call Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS.
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