JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Undercover narcotics officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday arrested a man who they said is suspected of using homeless people to peddle narcotics.
Before the suspect could turn onto Liberty Street from Church Street, officers surrounded his vehicle. Officers said he was not willing to get out of the car so they broke a window and pulled him out. The suspect was then searched and handcuffed.
A witness, whom News4Jax is not identifying as a safety precaution, said he saw multiple heavily-armed undercover officers surround the suspect’s car.
“The police was everywhere and they all had guns drawn and Tasers drawn and they ran up on him and told him: ‘Freeze. Put your hands up, put your hands up, put your hands up,’” the witness said.
According to police, the man was in possession of an undisclosed amount of crack cocaine and is suspected of being a drug dealer who uses people who are homeless to distribute drugs.
The witness who News4Jax spoke with said he has recovered from a drug addiction and that he is aware of this tactic by dealers in certain areas of downtown.
“I have seen that many times and I can describe a bunch of them,” he said.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said drug dealers are always looking for unsuspecting ways of selling drugs on the street. He said he’s not surprised dealers have turned to using vulnerable people to peddle narcotics.
“There are a lot of homeless people who just ran into some bad luck, and some are desperate. Some will do anything to make a buck to pay for something to eat or find a place to live or stay for a temporary time. The drug dealer knows that,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson also said that when dealers use this tactic, the homeless person who is caught ends up going to jail and the dealer simply moves on to find another vulnerable person to distribute illegal drugs.
While it’s unclear how many drug charges the suspect in Tuesday’s drug bust is facing, News4Jax has confirmed that he had been under heavy police surveillance.