PARRAMORE, Fla. – Tuesday afternoon, the Orlando Police Department's Special Operations Unit raided three houses in the Parramore neighborhood and arrested nearly a dozen people that police say are responsible for much of the violence plaguing the community.
Over the past five weeks, Lt. Jon Bigelow and his Special Operations Unit obtained search warrants and identified 63 suspects. Some were already in jail, some had been picked up, and officers searched for the rest Tuesday afternoon.
"This community deserves better," Bigelow said. "This house [that was raided] has been a thorn in our side for a long time and we continue to come back over and over and the citizens who live here on Arlington Street don't need to deal with the in-and-out traffic that is because of drugs. It's not just a thorn in our side because that's what we do, but more so the residents that want to live here and establish this neighborhood as a good neighborhood to live. We're across from UCF campus, we're across from Ace elementary school. This is a good place to be if it weren't for drug dealing going on."
Officers found pounds of drugs including marijuana, molly, and cocaine and confiscated wads of cash and two guns believed to be stolen.
"They'll peddle their narcotics in the backyard to people who walk up," Bigelow said. "It's not rocket science to figure out that if you're peddling a lot of drugs you in turn might have a lot of money on you. So if somebody doesn't want to risk going to jail to peddle the drugs and take the time to sell these drugs and make their money from illegal drug sales, they might just lead to the fact that they want to rob them. That might lead to shooting and armed robberies."
Bigelow said last month an armed carjacking in Parramore stemmed from a drug deal gone bad.
Residents have gathered with police, community leaders, and pastors over the past few months to complain about the deadly shootings and ask police for more attention and faster response times.
"We're doing our best to get out there and I answer every complaint that the Orlando Police Department receives," Bigelow said. "We hear the complaints of the citizens, we just want them to know that when it seems like we're not doing anything, we want to make sure that we're doing it right."
Bobby Sullivan, a Parramore resident of 42 years, watched a raid from his apartment next door to one of the suspected drug houses.
"I love it," Sullivan said. "I called a lot of times but it ain't do no good. They [drug dealers] are harassing me, I can't sleep at night, they harass me all night, sell drugs all night. 24/7. When the wind blows, all that trash, when the wind blows, it all comes across."
While Sullivan is pleased to see police taking action he fears the dealers and the violence will be back tomorrow.
“To that I say I hope not,” Bigelow said. "That hopefully what we can do is show that this is a problem where they don’t want to come back and deal with the police.