Narcotics bust at Southside club nets 16 arrests

20 more arrests expected as part of Operation Poppin' Molly, sheriff says


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An undercover drug bust at a Southside nightclub landed 16 people behind bars, including some employees.

Police say multiple drugs were sold at Pure Nightclub off Philips Highway, but the big one was MDMA, known mostly by its street name "Molly."

On top of that, Jacksonville Fire Rescue was forced to shut down the club because of code violations.

"Operation Poppin' Molly" lasted more than two months and it involved more than 100 drug sales. Now, 16 people have been arrested by JSO and they're still looking for 20 more.

A man who asked not to be identified said on any given night he would expect to see a line outside of Pure Nightclub but was shocked to learn that it was closed down.

"I was definitely shocked because I first saw it on Facebook. I saw the picture of Pure, and it's pretty iconic," the man said.

At a news conference, Sheriff John Rutherford talked about the link between violent crime and the drug trade. 


"Not only may we have saved some young person out there, some young adult from overdosing on Molly, but we may have also kept them from being shot by somebody in the drug world," Rutherford said.

A look through News4jax archives show one previous incident at the club last September when a man was shot in the leg after an argument outside the club.

The charges in the case include drug possession and drugs sales. Police say other drugs found during the bust include cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.

The code violations that closed the club pretty standard. Things like holes in the walls that were used for speakers. JSO says once those violations are addressed, the club can reopen.

IMAGES: 16 charged in Operation Poppin' Molly

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