Sarasota, Florida - It's taken two years for local and federal law enforcement agencies to shut down a major drug trafficking operation in north Sarasota County. But some people living in the area say getting drug dealers off the street is only part of the solution.
"This is where I've grown up," says Rahim Sloan. The 36-year-old and his father go back seven generations of living in Sarasota.
"This is a thriving community," says Rahim. The young father moved away for a few years and recently returned and says he's found less drugs and less crime. "As for suspicious individuals, I don't see them as often as I would have five or six years ago. It does seem like it's getting better."
Sarasota Police say that's because many of those drug dealers are behind bars today.
"These individuals are responsible for bringing large amounts on a weekly basis," says Lt. Pat Ledwith with the Sarasota Police Department.
During a press conference Friday, SPD -- along with the DEA, ATF and the Manatee Sheriff's Office -- announced the results of "Operation Sarasota Cartel II." The two-year-long investigation ended with police shutting down a major drug trafficking operation: 33 arrests of high-level drug dealers, the seizure of 14 kilos of cocaine with the street value of more than half a million, plus five vehicles and $145,000 in cash.
"Most of these guys will see prison for a long, long time," says Ledwith.
Police say they will keep the pressure on running operations to disrupt the drug dealers business.
Rahim says local governments need to do more to help local businesses. He says, "Entice larger businesses back into the community. We still need help with that, the red tape involved as far as licensing"
Rahim and his father own three properties in Newtown and hope to buy two more by the end of the year. He says it's their way of helping keep drug dealers out and crime down.
Rahim says, "By helping business owners further clean this up, not only for part of the black community coming in, but for everybody to come in and enjoy themselves, have a good time, spend money and do some business. That's our goal, to bring life back into this area."