by: Leslie Coursey Updated:
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - Marijuana, heroin and prescription pills are being sold on the streets of Clay County -- sometimes just feet away from schools and churches.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office has been watching the deals go down for six months and just this week started arresting suspected drug dealers in Operation Summer Slam.
"Drug sales by their very nature are dangerous things. They're businesses where people get shot," said Sheriff Rick Beseler.
Beseler and Captain David Barnes identified 43 suspects they call mid-level dealers -- people with enough connections to supply other dealers and addicts. Right now, 29 are in custody.
"The pharmaceutical pills are the things we're dealing with the most right now. That's where the crisis is at," said Barnes.
The sheriff said the drug problem in Clay County isn't going away any time soon, but these arrests should slow things down for a while.
It's sort of like playing whack-a-mole. As soon as we whack one type of narcotic or drug, something else will pop up," he said.
Beseler said he's often asked why deputies wait so long to arrest these suspects. He said they wait so they don't tip off other dealers about their investigations.
Eight supects could face enhanced penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or a church.
Deputies need your help identifying about a dozen suspects still on the run. You can see their photos here.