CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Deputies have made 10 busts in Clay County in less than two months, according to the Sheriff's Office.
A Clay County Sheriff's Office spokesperson told News4Jax on Friday that 10 search warrants, which were all drug-related, have been served since Aug. 9.
"They had options and now that option is dried up for them. They're going to have to go somewhere else. And by the time we get done, there will be no options for them to buy drugs in Clay County," said Lt. Scott Moreland, with the Sheriff's Office. "If you're going to commit crime, we're going to come get you. And we're going to make sure we get you out of county, whether it's through the Department of Corrections or whether we get to the point where you no longer want to be here and you move on and you take your criminal element somewhere else."
In a span of 16 hours Thursday, deputies busted three suspected meth houses within a mile of each other in the Middleburg area, leading to five arrests. The most recent took place Thursday evening on Blue Knoll Road just outside Middleburg city limits.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office announced Friday morning that members of its narcotics and street crimes units, as well as SWAT, served a search warrant Thursday night on Blue Knoll Road. Deputies said the occupants of the residence were arrested on charges that included maintaining a drug dwelling, child neglect, failure to register as a sex offender and possession of methamphetamine.
Clay County jail records show Dale Holland, 38, and Lucas Jewett, 30, were arrested on Blue Knoll Road. Holland was booked into the jail on charges of keeping a dwelling for drugs, child neglect and possession of methamphetamine. Jewett was jailed on charges of failure to re-register as required, failure to report a name or residence change, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of drug equipment and driving on an invalid license.
A neighbor, who did not wish to be identified, described the Blue Knoll Road as a house of horrors.
"Oh, it has just been really, really weird," the neighbor said Friday.
She also told News4Jax that about 30 children live in the area and walk to the bus stop.
"I ain't worried anymore, Clay County has got down their job. That's all we can say. They took him down and that's awesome. I'm glad, because like I said, there are so many kids around here and they have to walk right past this and they see it every day," the neighbor said. "Got so many drug activities over there, so many people -- it's just terrible."
Earlier on Thursday, according to the Sheriff's Office, three people were arrested after deputies raided a Middleburg home, which led to an investigation at another home nearby.
Members of the Sheriff's Office's narcotics and street crimes units, as well as SWAT, served a search warrant sometime before 1 p.m. Thursday at a home on Johns Cemetery Road, just west of Mimosa Avenue and about a mile away from the home on Blue Knoll Road.
Sheriff's Office Division Chief Ken Stivers told News4Jax that investigators had been watching the house for a long time. Stivers said a 10-year-old boy lived in the house where the raid occurred, so deputies purposely raided the home when they knew the child would be at school. During the raid, according to Stivers, deputies found evidence of meth, but they did not find proof that meth was being made in the house.
The Sheriff's Office posted on social media that deputies made arrests on drug and child neglect charges at the house, and Stivers told News4Jax that one of the people arrested was a father of the 10-year-old.
Charles McMillan, 40, and Keri Ann Oliver, 41, were booked into the Clay County jail, each on a charge of child neglect, according to online jail records. McMillan also faces a charge of keeping a place for drugs, jail records show.
The serving of the search warrant, which stemmed from information obtained during a sheriff's walk in the area, also led to another investigation at a home about a half-mile away, according to the Sheriff's Office.
During surveillance of the first house, which Stivers said they had been watching for a long time, investigators noticed people walking back and forth between that house and the other one just up the road.
According to Clay County jail records, Cherie House, 27, was arrested Thursday at Johns Cemetery Road and Foxtail Avenue and booked into the jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine and drug equipment.
The Sheriff's Office posted photos on social media of the search warrants being served Thursday, which included images of plywood reading, "You had options," that were posted on the first home on Johns Cemetery Road and the house on Blue Knoll Road. They're part of the sheriff's "zero tolerance" policy on drugs.
The Sheriff's Office said a big push in Clay County has been to focus not just on the dealers, but the users who often pile up at house and diminish quality of life for neighbors.