FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – In the dark of a parking lot, a Broward Sheriff’s Office undercover officer stood waiting to make a drug deal. But this was not only a drug deal, BSO says, this was an opportunity to take a violent criminal off the streets.
Seconds later, the suspect approached. BSO says the man sold them $250 worth of crack cocaine. Investigators say the suspect, Daphley Dieujuste, had previously sold them three guns. Within minutes, deputies had Dieujuste on the ground and in handcuffs.
BSO’s VIPER Unit — Violent Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response — was responsible for the operation. The unit, created in January when Sheriff Scott Israel took over as sheriff, has made 316 arrests and confiscated 37 firearms, according to BSO. Israel says the unit was formed by merging the Gun Squad and the Street Crimes Unit and is focused on tracking down Broward’s most violent criminals.
“We don’t want to respond to crime,” Israel said at a news conference. “We want to prevent crime and by preventing crime we have to go after the most heinous people committing those violent crimes and that’s what we’ve done.”
CBS 4 News recently rode along with the VIPER Unit as they arrested Dieujuste.
Sgt. George Anthony supervises the VIPER Unit. He says research has found that a small number of criminals commit the majority of the violent crimes.
“Our purpose is to go out and target that 6% that commit 65% of the crimes,” Anthony told CBS 4′s Carey Codd.
Anthony says Dieujuste sold them $250 dollars worth of crack. Investigators say they found him with the bills BSO’s undercover officer gave him. They also say he previously sold them three guns.
“We bought three guns from him — one is a sawed off shotgun and ATF is gonna take and indict federally,” Anthony explained.
Diejeuste said he didn’t have anything to do with the drugs.
“I was not selling no drugs,” Dieujuste said.
“What were you doing here man?” Codd asked.
“I was just getting something to eat,” he replied.
Dieujuste is locked up in the Broward County Jail.
At a news conference Tuesday, Israel said the VIPER Unit has made arrests in several high-profile cases using intelligent policing, described as a means of using expert analysis with timely tips from sources and even Crimestoppers to make arrests.
One of the cases Israel highlighted was that of a man who threatened to rob and possibly kill anyone working at an Allstate Insurance business in Pembroke Pines last month.
Sgt. Anthony said the VIPER Unit encounters the worst of the worst criminals in Broward County. He said that means deputies need to be proactive but also extremely careful.
“This is a high liability unit,” Anthony said. “We make sure that we train at the highest level possible to go home safe.”
BSO says The VIPER Unit has also worked with other units with BSO and other police agencies to track down murder suspects, bank robbers and other wanted, violent criminals.