Published: Apr 11, 2013 2:59 PM EDT

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office arrested 24 individuals under the age of 21 on charges involving alcohol, tobacco and/or synthetic drugs in a month's time.

CCSO, in conjunction with the Florida Sheriffs Task Force, has concluded a five-week operation aimed at protecting youth in Florida. Operation Dry Spring focused on preventing underage youth from purchasing and using alcohol, tobacco and various forms of synthetic drugs. This operation was timed to coincide with the Spring Break season, when many youth experiment with drugs and alcohol.

From March 4 to April 7, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Deputies targeted underage youth in possession of alcohol, tobacco or synthetic drugs as well as businesses selling these substances to underage youth.

During the statewide operation, Charlotte County Deputies arrested 26 people for alcohol and drug related criminal violations. Two of the 26 were adults, 24 were minors or adults under the age of 21.

Charlotte County deputies conducted 52 business checks for compliance with state and local laws regarding the sale of alcohol, tobacco and synthetic substances to minors. Out of the 52 compliance checks, only two businesses were found in violation, which resulted in two store clerks being arrested for selling alcohol to an under aged person.

At the heart of Operation Dry Spring was the goal of preventing potential emergency-related incidents linked to alcohol and drug use. In 2010, nearly 190,000 individuals under the age of 21 visited an emergency room for injuries or conditions connected to underage drinking. In addition, the use of synthetic drugs such as bath salts and spice is on the rise with more than 7,000 reported incidents in 2011, compared to some 3,000 in 2010.