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 April 11th, 2013  
St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara announces results, protects youth during Operation Dry Spring
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Florida Sheriffs Task Force, has concluded a five-week operation aimed at protecting youth in Florida. Operation Dry Spring focused on preventing underage youth from purchasing and using alcohol, tobacco and various forms of synthetic drugs, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.

This operation was timed to coincide with the Spring Break season, when many youth experiment with drugs and alcohol.

From March 22 to 27, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Deputies targeted underage youth in possession of alcohol, tobacco or synthetic drugs as well as businesses selling these substances to underage youth. This operation resulted in 48 arrests, Sheriff Mascara said.

"Our undercover teams targeted areas such as convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, bars and restaurants for alcohol, tobacco and synthetic drug sales. The alcohol sales compliance rate for following state laws was 72 percent. This is significantly down from the 86 percent compliance rate we found last November in a similar operation," Sheriff Mascara said.

State law prohibits alcohol sales to those under 21.

"The picture was far more positive when it came to stores following state laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to those under 18," Sheriff Mascara said. "We found 100 percent compliance with the tobacco laws. That's an improvement from the 95 percent compliance rate we found back in December in a previous operation."

Sheriff Mascara said, ""Historically, underage drinking during spring break has been the norm.  The focus of this operation was to prevent a tragedy to the youth in our community from occurring due to underage drinking.  I think parents should take this opportunity to talk to their children about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking."

At the heart of Operation Dry Spring was the goal of preventing potential emergency-related incidents linked to alcohol and drug use. In 2010, nearly 190,000 individuals under the age of 21 visited an emergency room for injuries or conditions connected to underage drinking. In addition, the use of synthetic drugs such as bath salts and spice is on the rise with more than 7,000 reported incidents in 2011, compared to some 3,000 in 2010.

“Through Operation Dry Spring, the Florida Sheriffs Task force has addressed an important issue in our state; the safety of our youth,” said FSA President Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton. “The Florida Sheriffs Association is extremely proud of the hard work and dedication from all those that participated in Operation Dry Spring.”

The Florida Sheriffs Task Force pools resources from the 67 Sheriffs’ Offices to address specific areas of concern. The Florida Sheriffs Task Force also is the point of contact for statewide initiatives, including helping to staff the State Emergency Operations Center and coordinating Sheriffs' offices responses to storm-ravaged communities during hurricanes and other disasters.

St. Lucie County Deputies checked 157 stores for underage alcohol sales and made 42 arrests for violations. St. Lucie Deputies checked 91 stores for tobacco sales compliance and found no violations.

In addition, St. Lucie County undercover teams checked 68 stores for synthetic drug sales, and there were no violations.

Of the 48 arrests in St. Lucie County, Sheriff Mascara said there were 42 for underage alcohol sales, two for possession of alcohol by a minor, one for possession of tobacco by a youth under 18, two for possession of marijuana by youth under 18 and one for possession of drug paraphernalia by a youth under 18.

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The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of Florida’s Sheriffs, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has quietly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law-enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and continues to support the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, which manages facilities and programs throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. The Florida Sheriffs Association has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit www.flsheriffs.org.

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