Published: Jan 25, 2012 7:17 PM EST

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office was one of 16 agencies in Southwest Florida that participated in the Southwest Florida Strike Force targeting prescription drug violators in “Operation Southwest Shopper.” The operation saw 50 arrests in the multi-county sweep of those attempting to make illegal prescription drug purchases. Charlotte County was responsible for 21 of the 50 arrests that took place Jan. 17-20.

Sheriff William Cameron said, “The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office recognizes that the illegal sale and distribution of prescription drugs is a major problem facing our community. As an active member agency in the strike force, we realize that it takes the collected efforts at the local, county and state levels to end this blight.”

“Illegal prescription drug trafficking does not recognize jurisdictional boundaries, so fighting this form of crime effectively requires a cooperative and coordinated effort,” said Sarasota County Sheriff Thomas M. Knight. “As the results of this initiative clearly show, our efforts to combine forces is working.”

In March 2011, Governor Scott announced a Statewide Drug Strike Force, headed by FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, to combat the criminal distribution of prescription drugs in Florida. With support from Attorney General Pam Bondi and state and local law enforcement leaders, the Strike Force is charged with stopping the flow of dangerous drugs into communities by disrupting the major illegal supply and distribution points.

For 2011, Regional Drug Enforcement Strike Force members’ efforts statewide have resulted in 1794 arrests (including 31 doctors) and the seizure of 433,466 pharmaceutical pills, 49 vehicles, 379 weapons, and $4,537,310. Additionally, 27 clinics have been closed.

Anyone with knowledge of illegal drug activity is asked to please call the CCSO Narcotics Unit at 941-575-2157, or Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS (8477).