In 2022, the Florida Highway Patrol’s Criminal Interdiction Unit confiscated $20.65 million worth of drugs in Northeast Florida, which includes Marion County.
According to FHP, its Criminal Interdiction Unit (CIU) runs operations along Florida’s roadways that are designed to uncover nefarious drug activity while rooting out illegal human trafficking and smuggling efforts.
Last year, the unit conducted a total of 1,025 felony arrests on 2,187 felony charges across the state, and over 5,000 pounds of narcotics and currency valued at over $110 million were also confiscated.
In addition, CIU seized 204 weapons and inhibited the smuggling of 148 undocumented immigrants during its yearlong operations across Florida’s 67 counties, according to FHP.
While marijuana was the most-seized drug in terms of gross weight, 722 pounds of cocaine were confiscated along with 649 pounds of other drugs including fentanyl, oxycodone, xylazine, and ecstasy/molly.
“The Florida Highway Patrol represents more than traffic enforcement and safety,” stated Dave Kerner, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director. “The men and women dedicated to keeping Florida communities safe are Florida’s finest. As they patrol the many roadways across the state, they confiscate dangerous narcotics and weapons.”
The above arrests and totals reflect the CIU division’s activity, but do not encompass every aspect of arrests and seizures that happen across the totality of the Florida Highway Patrol.
According to FHP, the CIU division regularly undergoes intensive training to stay up-to-date on tactics used by criminals, such as how to uncover hidden compartments in vehicles or how to spot human trafficking/smuggling.
CIU’s K-9 unit requires five months of initial training, which is then followed by more rigorous work to make an effective team. CIU has also been trained on how to provide first-aid training to K-9s.
During the previous year, CIU performed three major joint operations in Escambia, Sumter, and Columbia counties. In addition to weapon/drug confiscation and combating human trafficking and smuggling, CIU found murderers with in-state and out-of-state warrants, recovered stolen merchandise, recovered stolen merchandise, uncovered identity and social security theft, halted diesel fuel theft, discovered gas scams, and contributed to rescue efforts and traffic control during Hurricane Ian and other disasters, according to FHP.
“The Criminal Interdiction Unit is a group of highly trained, highly motivated, and very dedicated individuals who make a great force for good within the Florida Highway Patrol,” stated Major Sandy Mandell, FHP Bureau Commander of Criminal Investigations. “They consistently go above and beyond to make it safer for Florida’s residents and visitors.”
For more information, visit the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.