Guns seized during Operation Cease Fire
Riverview, FL-- A six-month long undercover operation resulted in 10 arrests after multiple convicted felons were caught illegally selling guns and drugs across from a Hillsborough County Elementary School. Three suspects remain on the loose at this time.
According to reports, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office investigators received a tip in July that a consignment store and former flower shop, located just 175 feet from Gibsonton Elementary School, was selling drugs.
"Operation Cease Fire" began.
Over the course of the operation, undercover detectives of a specialized gun squad were able to purchase over 30 firearms, nearly 50 silencers, along with trafficking amounts of narcotic prescription drugs, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine, reports say.
"The recent shootings in our country have turned the topic of guns into a national conversation," says Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. "At the Sheriff's Office, we have never stopped focusing on what the most important thing is when it comes to this issue, and that is taking the guns out of violent felons' hands."
See more photos of "Operation Cease Fire" here
The guns removed from the streets during the sting include an AR-15, AK-47 style rifle, 22 caliber rifle with silencer, sawed-off shotguns, and sniper-type rifles with night vision- all at the expense of the undercover officials' safety.
The sawed-off shotguns are "meant for one thing," according to Sheriff Gee. "That's to kill people."
According to Sheriff Gee, one of the most startling parts of the investigation revealed that some of the suspects wouldn't think twice about shooting law enforcement officers.
"If the opportunity strikes, I would be slinging lead at them," you can hear one man say in an undercover video captured during the investigation.
During one transaction, a detective encountered unexpected gunfire when a suspect spontaneously fired his gun into the ground to demonstrate the effectiveness of a silencer.
The Special Investigations Division gun squad detectives make it their priority to crack down on felons in possession of firearms. Last year, the team reportedly bought over 50 guns from 41 felons.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Sheriff Gee pointed to harsher sentences for convicted felons caught with guns as a potential solution to the problem. However, he says, recent efforts in the Florida Legislature have failed.
10 News will continue with updates as they become available.