Today, Governor Rick Scott announced a statewide law enforcement response for an immediate impact to the criminal distribution and abuse of drugs in Florida. With support from Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, the comprehensive plan will confront criminal drug trafficking in Florida, including, but not limited to, the criminal distribution of prescription drugs.
The Statewide Drug Strike Force will assist local law enforcement agencies by providing intelligence and analytical and investigative support. Commissioner Bailey will serve as the statewide coordinator of the strike force, and local strike teams will be co-led by Florida's sheriffs and police chiefs.
Governor Scott directed that $800,000 in unused grant funds be made immediately available for local law enforcement investigative efforts. The funds will go to the local strike teams to support overtime and other expenses. In addition, he directed other agencies under his purview to support the strike force. The Florida Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration will provide regulatory and licensing personnel, and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco will provide sworn investigators.
Governor Scott also announced the Florida Cabinet's authorization of the Florida Highway Patrol's participation, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater authorized investigators from the Division of Insurance Fraud to support the strike force.
Governor Scott's plan addresses the multiple threats to public health and safety, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers, unscrupulous doctors, storefront pill mills masquerading as legitimate health clinics and street corner dealers. Each level provides an opportunity for law enforcement to intervene and stop the illegal flow of drugs into Florida communities.
"The numbers plainly show that Florida has a serious problem that demands a serious, coordinated law enforcement response," Governor Scott stated. "Florida's future is threatened by crimes involving drugs, and our local sheriffs and chiefs simply cannot continue to tackle this mounting issue alone."
Members of Florida's law enforcement community who joined Governor Scott for today's announcement were:
* Chief Peter Paulding, Gulf Breeze Police Department, and president of the Florida Police Chiefs
* Chief George Turner, Brooksville Police Department
* Assistant Chief Marc Hamlin, Tampa Police Department
* Major Sophie Teague, Tampa Police Department
* Chief Dennis Jones of the Tallahassee Police Department and third vice president for the Florida Police Chiefs Association
* Chief Jim Troiano, High Springs Police Department, and Florida Police Chiefs Association district director
* Chief David Perry, Florida State University Police Department
* Chief Calvin Ross, Florida A&M University Police Department
* Sheriff Harrell Reid, Hamilton County, and president of the Florida Sheriff's Association
* Sheriff Bob White, Pasco County
* Sheriff Donald Eslinger, Seminole County
* Steve Casey, Florida Sheriff's Association Executive Director
* Julie Jones, Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
* Buddy Jacobs, State Attorney Association
* Major Donna Lusczynski, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
* Dennis Ward, State Attorney for the 16th Judicial Circuit
* 98 of the top 100 doctors dispensing oxycodone nationally are in Florida -- concentrated in the Miami, Tampa, and Orlando regions.
* 126 million pills of oxycodone are dispensed through Florida pharmacies -- most in or near Tampa, Orlando, and Miami regions.
* By far, more oxycodone is dispensed in the state of Florida than in the remaining states combined.