Man arrested in undercover fentanyl bust near Fort Myers youth complex

After beginning an investigation in August, law enforcement agencies worked together to arrest a known drug dealer in Lee County.

Fort Myers Police Department arrested “Manny” Tavaris Bernard Washington, 34, in an undercover drug bust in Fort Myers Thursday after Lee County Sheriff’s Office narcotics unit gathered evidence through the help of a confidential informant.

According to LCSO, investigators say Washington was carrying enough fentanyl to kill more than 200 people. The undercover bust happened in front of the S.T.A.R.S. Complex, a youth program facility in the city, in August. Washington picked the location and sold $60 worth of fentanyl to the informant.

The informant turned over the drugs to investigators, and it tested positive for fentanyl.

Tavaris Bernard Washington, 34. Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Some parents are confused why the operation was conducted in the parking lot close to where children play and learn. While others say sometimes it has to happen that way to get drugs off the street.

“I usually think sheriffs have a great plan up their sleeve, you know, to make sure we’re safe,” Ennes Rogers said.

But people like Rogers, whose younger brother plays football here, are wondering why the drug deal needed to happen feet away from kids.

“In shock or frustrated or confused because it never happens like this,” Rogers said.

Investigators say the undercover operation went down while youth programs were in session.

“I know I wouldn’t want an undercover sting with a drug so strong around my kids,” Judy Ott said. “I can tell you that.”

Still, people are happy Washington was brought into custody.

“It’s one more drug dealer off the street that’s not selling the illegal drugs to somebody to make them sick and possibly kill the person,” Phil Lipsumb said.

Washington faces charges for Sale or Delivery of Controlled Substance, Opium or Deriv-sell (Within 1000 ft of specified area Sched I or II) and Opium or Deriv-Possess (Within sell etc 1000 ft specified area Sched I or II).

Washington is in Lee County Jail on $60,000 bond. Bond has not yet been set for the charge for Sale or Delivery of Controlled Substance.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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