I was present representing Historic City Media at the press conference called by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office today to review the known results from the â€œOperation: D-Dayâ€ actions yesterday; around the state and here at home.
St. Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar spoke to us about the importance of the efforts undertaken in completing this mission which shaped up over the past four months. Shoar told me, “This is part of an ongoing process of identifying and interrupting marijuana distribution in our community.”
Ed Williams, Director of North Florida HIDTA in Jacksonville spoke about the â€œcooperation and coordinationâ€ between the law enforcement agencies involved in this statewide operation. Williamsâ€™ comments were echoed by Shoar who emphasized that the law enforcement participants were united in a common cause and not there looking for publicity or â€œto be in the spotlightâ€.
When asked, Williams agreed that the weak economy plays a role in an increase in illegal marijuana growing and trafficking.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge of the Jacksonville Regional Office, Dominick Pape, pointed out the importance of continued targeting of marijuana â€œgrow housesâ€. As proven in the seizures of eleven firearms while making the Tri-County arrests, marijuana growing is a business that involves â€œguns and violenceâ€; not just illegal possession of drugs.
St. Johns County Sheriffâ€™s Office Sgt. Scott Beaver spoke about the important role played by confidential informants, tipsters and observant neighbors in the success of yesterdayâ€™s action.
Beaver also described some of the elaborate measures taken by the operators of the grow houses to avoid detection by police. In one case, officers discovered a false room hidden within a house. Beaver identified several telltale signs that might alert citizens to the possibility of illegal growing operations, including; windows that have been blacked out, higher than normal traffic around the residence, the distinctive odor of marijuana and other odd behavior, such as running the air conditioners full time â€“ even during the winter months.