Operation targets drugs and guns

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Daytona’s police chief credits local and federal law enforcement as well as the community for helping to get violent offenders off the streets.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young speaks at the Jan. 22 press conference.
DUANE C. FERNANDEZ/HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Local law enforcement is stepping up efforts to fight crime. During a Jan. 22 press conference at Daytona Beach Police Department headquarters at 129 Valor Blvd., Operation PayDirt and its findings were announced to the public.

Operation Pay Dirt is a joint effort between the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). The operation is ongoing.

The purpose of the program is to get drugs, guns and violent offenders off the streets, said Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young.

“This operation was imperative to getting violent criminals off our streets and a matter of public safety, Young said.

Arrests and seizures

The operation has yielded 67 suspects and 32 arrests thus far. Eight people are facing federal charges, 24 are facing state charges.

Most of the suspects are facing drug charges, including sale, delivery and manufacturing. Others face gun charges, including illegal sales and possession of firearms. Many of the suspects have criminal histories.

Operation Pay Dirt has taken large amounts of drugs off the streets, including cocaine (146 grams), crack cocaine, heroin (135 grams), MDMA/molly (113.9 grams), methamphetamine (309 grams), fentanyl (192 grams), cannabis (86 grams) and oxycontin.

Police have confiscated 37 guns. More than $200,000 in cash and counting has also been seized.

Partnership lauded

Law enforcement authorities tout their partnership and all those involved for the project’s success.

“This operation is a result of our longstanding relationship with the Daytona Beach police department. Together we’ve worked for over a year. I thank all the law enforcement who worked this investigation,” said ATF Special Agent Craig Saier.

Young noted, “I thank our special investigations unit and crime suppression team. I can’t thank the ATF enough. This is a demonstration of true teamwork. I also thank the State Attorney R.J. Larizza for ensuring this is a successful operation.”

Young also thanked the community for its help. “We also thank the community for their support in this operation. Without them we cannot do this,” he said.

A board shows those who have been arrested under Operation Pay Dirt.

COURTESY OF DAYTONA BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT

Started in July 2020

Operation Pay Dirt began in July 2020, but it was ramped up in November after a spike in violence ravaged the city.

Seven shootings occurred from Nov. 21 to Nov. 30. Six of those resulted in nine people shot and four deaths.

At this time, none of the suspects in this operation have been linked to those shootings back in November.

“We are still looking for a couple of them. I can’t get into the specifics. I can only say that some of the names on the board popped up as suspects involved in what we were dealing with in November,” Young said.

The suspects aren’t connected to any drug organizations or gangs, Young said. All the activity has been local, he added.

“There are no gangs that we have identified, but once again all of the people involved have pretty intensive criminal histories,” Young said. “This is mostly local activity that has occurred in Daytona, DeLand, New Smyrna and Palm Coast.”

Community outreach

The community can expect some larger police presence, especially in troubled areas, Young said.

In recent months, the DBPD has stepped up community outreach efforts and increased its presence.

“I am big on community outreach. We will continue community outreach,’’ he related. The police also has increased patrols in troubled areas as a result of violence.

“We have zero tolerance on violent crimes,” Young added.

DBPD also has increased its presence in the 600 to 800 block of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard where some of the November shootings occurred.

The officers are also doing a “Park, Walk, and Talk’’ campaign where officers get out their cars, walk the neighborhood and talk to the people during their shifts.

“Everything is two-fold. It’s about community engagement but we also want to have a presence and be a deterrent. Normally when those with ill will see the cops they leave the area,’’ Young added.

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