CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook on Thursday announced Operation Hammer and Hope, a two-step process of reducing drug overdoses in the county.
Cook said step one, or the “hammer” side, was to arrest drug dealers and take down their operations and step two, or the “hope” side, is to provide free help to their customers who are battling drug addiction.
“Drugs and the violent crimes that come with drug dealing cannot and will not be tolerated in our county,” Cook said at a news conference Thursday morning. “Drug dealing in Clay County will not be tolerated. If you are a drug dealer, understand that we have a highly trained and professional team of patrol deputies and detectives who love our community and will not allow you to pray upon our children and families.”
Operation Hammer and Hope began in January, and significant quantities of meth, fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens were seized during the operation. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office focused specifically on the Middleburg and Clay Hill areas.
Cook said deputies have charged 44 people and executed three search warrants that resulted from the operation. According to the Sheriff’s Office, there are more than 100 charges from the cases, including over 80 felonies. Cook said there are seven more suspects who have not been captured.
As part of the “hope” side of the operation, more than 20 agencies that are partnering with the Sheriff’s Office will provide free services to help people who are addicted to drugs. The free service will be available at Wilkinson Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.
“Staff from the community paramedicine program and Clay behavioral peer counselors will be on hand to assist anyone that wants help getting off opioids as well as providing family support and no-cost Narcan,” said Clay County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Glenn East.
To date, deputies said, there have been 23 confirmed overdose deaths in Clay County since January. Operation Hammer and Hope aims to prevent another death.
“Now is the time to act because you never know if the next dose will be the fatal one,” the sheriff said.