BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Sixteen people are in jail in connection with the trafficking and distribution of fentanyl and cocaine throughout the community, Boynton Beach police said Friday.
Police said they collaborated with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office in an 18-month operation they coined "Big Boi."
The operation resulted in the seizure of 20 firearms, eight vehicles and a combined weight of about 44 pounds of fentanyl and cocaine.
Investigators said that detectives obtained 11 search warrants, which led to the arrest of the 16 suspects.
"Our collaboration with law enforcement partners has resulted in a milestone in our fight against drug-related crimes," Boynton Beach Police Chief Joseph DeGiulio said in a statement. "Removing these dangerous drugs from our streets ensures a safer community."
Thomas Turkin, a Boynton Beach resident and vice mayor of the city, saw some of the arrests take place along Southwest First Street.
"I saw some deputies and officers marking up some bags and crates and hauling them out," Turkin said.
"Do you think you would have noticed just casually walking around like you do that something was going on here?" WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked.
"I would have never noticed," Turkin said. "I walk this street almost every single morning, and until this morning, I would have never known."
The amount of narcotics that were confiscated was extremely concerning to Turkin.
"Let me tell you, 44 pounds, that could kill millions and millions of people," Turkin said. "One kilogram of fentanyl can kill up to about 500,000 people."
The operation was funded by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which provided funding through the State Assistance Enforcement for Fentanyl Eradication (SAFE) grant.
"Florida is a law-and-order state, and we fight back against drug traffickers selling deadly fentanyl and other illicit substances in our communities," Attorney General Ashley Moody said. "Thanks to many law enforcement partnerships coming together in this case and working with our Statewide Prosecutors, these defendants now face serious felony charges."
The names of the suspects have not been released.
"What's your message to the people out there that may be involved in this kind of crime?" Lopez asked.
"I'll just say this, there is no room for drug trafficking, fentanyl, child trafficking and corruption in the city of Boynton Beach," Turkin said. "You will get caught."
There were 106,842 reported drug overdose deaths from June 2022 to June 2023, according to the Centers for Disease and Control, with more than 7,577 of those cases occurring in Florida.
Police said the investigation remains ongoing, and they expect more arrests will be made.
The Boynton Beach Police Department said they wanted to thank the support of the FDLE, Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, Boca Raton Police Department, Delray Beach Police Department, Broward County Sheriff's Office, Plantation Police Department, West Palm Beach Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of Statewide Prosecution in the operation.