MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Miami-Dade Police arrested more than a dozen people in connection to a year-long investigation into the sale of dangerous drugs in South Florida.
The preparation is intense – the focus, the equipment, the guns, the armored trucks.
You’d think you were looking at soldiers, but look closely and you’d see they were Miami-Dade police officers.
They weren’t heading to a war zone, but into Miami-Dade’s neighborhoods.
“We’ve gotten a lot of bad guys off the street,” an undercover officer told CBS4’s Tiani Jones.
The Miami-Dade Police Narcotics Bureau will tell you it’s more of race than a war.
“This year we’ve seen an exponential increase in overdose deaths related to opioid,” said Lt. Juan Villalba.
The heroin epidemic is changing how police do their jobs. It caught almost everyone from police, the medical community to addiction experts by surprise.
The problem is so big that the City of Miami Fire rescue recently let our camera’s follow them as they went on overdose case after overdose case.
And Thursday, the Miami-Dade Police Department allowed us to ride along on their drug bust: “Operation Dragon Slayer.”
It’s a yearlong investigation and campaign, in conjunction with the United States Postal Inspectors and the Drug Enforcement Agency, to put a dent in Miami’s heroin epidemic.
“What we’re finding is that they’re mixing the fentanyl and the carfentanil with the heroin and combining it to make it a very powerful and lethal drug as well,” said Villalba.
Mixing those drugs creates a product that’s 100 times more powerful than heroin, but the street chemists doing the mixing have no idea what they’re doing in most cases.
“When they mix it with heroin, it causes almost an immediate overdose,” explained the undercover office. “Almost causing immediate death and stopping the heart.”
It’s so potent that it can be absorbed through the skin, even inhaled.
“Our search teams right now as they’re conducting searches are wearing double gloves, they’re wearing masks, and that’s just the nature of how we have to conduct our investigations to protect ourselves,” said Villalba.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Miami-Dade police served several search warrants and arrested a lot people.
When you look at the stats of those arrested, it was all over the place.
The average age was 50, there were two senior citizens, two women, the youngest was 23 and the oldest 76.
The accused drug dealers show how heroin has changed the game.
In total, police arrested 16 people.
As police race to get the drug off the streets, their goal is not on battle but save lives.
“We’re trying to get it off the streets and we’re trying to keep it off the streets,” said Villalba.