CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – At one point, drug raids and drug stings in Clay County were relatively uncommon. But now, these raids and stings are weekly and sometimes daily.
And it’s not slowing down.
News4Jax spent some time on Friday with embattled Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels and he talked about how and who he is targeting when it comes to illegal narcotics.
Daniels spoke about the reason why his deputies are easily identifying certain criminals involved in drugs over others and his reaction to critics who say he’s showboating by blasting drug dealers all over social media.
Daniels said Clay County residents who were once afraid to come forward about neighbors dealing drugs are now more at ease about reporting drug crimes next door. And they’re seeing the results of what they report.
“We get tips on instant message, anonymously. Sometimes they just call in," Daniels said.
And lately, the tips have been pouring in from all over the county. Daniels said users who commit other crimes to support their habit are usually the easier targets to go after.
“Someone asked, ‘Why you bother the user?’ Because they commit the crimes. ‘Why not target the big guy?’ The big guy you’ll never hear that person.” That person may live in your neighborhood and you may think they’re upstanding citizens and here he is the biggest drug pusher in the region,” Daniels said.
The Sheriff’s Office still goes after the big drug pushers, he said, but it can sometimes take longer to build a case against them.
After every major drug bust at suspected drug houses, Daniels makes sure his deputies always leave a sign on the house that reads: “You had options.” Pictures of the home and the people arrested are also plastered all over Clay County Sheriff Social media sites. Daniels admits that his critics think it’s a form of showboating.
“If I’m the chief law enforcement officer of this jurisdiction, shouldn’t I let the bad guy know what my expectations are? They don’t have to be here. They can stop what they’re doing,” he said.
Daniels officially filed for re-election for Clay County sheriff last month.
Daniels was the sixth candidate to file, joining what was already a crowded 2020 race. The sheriff has been grappling with an ongoing FDLE investigation and the fallout from an extra-marital affair, which came to light after Daniels filed a report accusing Cierra Smith, a woman he supervised when he was chief of the jail for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, of having a gun in her car and following him.