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Police: 'Operation Big Apple' Shuts Down Big Source Of First Coast Heroin

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams (center) speaks at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday it has knocked out a major source of street level heroin on the First Coast.

Sheriff Mike Williams said the first bust associated with Operation Big Apple came in November 2015 when nearly 22 grams of heroin were found in a house on River Forest Drive.  This February, officers discovered another 49 grams of heroin in a house on Sharon Lake Drive.

Last month, the Sheriff's Office intercepted a massive shipment of the drug believed coming from New York City.

“Detectives stopped a rental vehicle on I-95 south at Edgewood Avenue during a surveillance operation. Inside the vehicle, detectives recovered 19,810 individually packaged doses of heroin. The recovered heroin has an estimated street value of just under $400,000 dollars,” said Williams.

Three men connected with the heroin have been arrested, something Williams promises will happen to other drug dealers.

“Eventually your day will come and you’ll meet our JSO narcotics detectives and you’ll go to prison for a very long time and we’re going to work really hard to make that happen every single day,” said Williams.

Williams’ advice to heroin users is get help. Now.

“It is not the heroin of the 1970s. It is not a recreational drug by any stretch. I mean it is as deadly as it has ever been to be a heroin addict and drug user.”

Williams says the difference is that nearly all of the heroin coming in to Jacksonville today is laced with the powerful and highly addictive synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The sheriff said it’s likely this heroin is laced with the anesthetic fentanyl but investigators won’t know until testing can be completed.

Last year more than 3,400 people overdosed on opioids in Jacksonville and Williams expects the number to be even higher this year. Councilman Bill Gulliford and the medical examiner say more than 700 people have diedof overdoses in the first half of this year alone.

Correction: A previous version of this story said 3,400 people died of opioid overdoses last year. That number relates to the the amount of overdoses, not deaths.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at, 904-358-6351 or on Twitter @cydwjctnews.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.