FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – After an 11-month drug bust investigation called “Operation Santa’s Naughty Lil Sellers,” the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday it seized $5.7 million in illegal drugs.
During the investigation, the Flagler County Special Investigation Unit (SIU) issued 24 search warrants and arrested 19 out of 35 suspects who are facing various drug-related charges. Investigators are currently searching for 17 other suspects.
Deputies began making arrests at 6 a.m. and said they will continue until all suspects are arrested.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s fatal dosage data, the investigation seized enough heroin and fentanyl to potentially kill over 2.3 million people.
“We will never know how many overdoses or deaths we prevented with this undercover operation,” Sheriff Rick Staly said during Thursday’s press conference.
Operation Santa’s Naughty Lil Sellers is responsible for seizing over 123 kilograms of various illegal substances such as cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, morphine, suboxone, steroids, psilocybin, also known as mushrooms, Dilaudid, metamorphoses and marijuana, a news release reported.
In addition to the drugs that were seized, the operation seized 13 firearms including a combination of rifles and handguns -- alongside $41,989.00 in cash, according to the news release.
Staly mentioned that most of the suspects are Flagler residents and the connection among these individuals is very loosely correlated.
Within the investigation, however, there are some family connections, a father (Russell Laster) and two sons (Russell Laster Jr. and Tyshon Laster -- and two brothers (Alfred Shavers Jr. and Camarie Shavers). These individuals have not been arrested yet. Arrests started as early as six this morning and will continue until all suspects are arrested.
Deputies also made an arrest of one of the suspects this morning. While trying to detain the suspect, he fled from the vehicle and threw drugs out of the window. After bringing the vehicle to a stop, deputies were able to find large amounts of fentanyl.
The sheriff says many of these individuals will face additional charges because drugs were on them when they were arrested.
Staly leaves the community with a message for all drug dealers in the area.
“I especially want to thank our community that when they saw something suspicious in their neighborhood, they said something,” said Staly. “This should be a warning to drug dealers that, if you are not listed on these boards in this operation, I suggest you get out of Flagler County because you are next, and if you sell a fatal poison, we will investigate you and we will lock you up for murder.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging the community to continue to utilize its community outreach line in response to the community reporting local crime.
If you have any leading information regarding this eleven-month investigation, please contact The Flagler Sheriff’s Department or Call Crime Stoppers at (888)277-8477.