Lee County sheriff looks to almost double narcotics unit

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno looks to almost double his narcotics detectives as drug-related crime has increased. (CREDIT: WINK NEWS)

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is looking to double its narcotics unit.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno likes to talk tough especially when it comes to drugs.

“It’s literally poison on our streets and when you take it off it saves lives,” Marceno said in a one-on-one interview with WINK News in Oct. 2020.

The sheriff’s office said there are more drugs on the streets of Lee County and more people are dying.

Cocaine seizures are up 479 percent from 2020 to 2021.

Crystal meth seizures are up 352 percent and fentanyl is up by 256 percent.

The effect of all those drugs on the streets last year? 190 deadly overdoses.

“Since they have a narcotics task force, can we be proactive and continue to invest in this so we can get in front of the curve so we can continue to be one of the safest counties,” said Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane.

Ruane points to one more statistic: the increased population in the county.

More people equals more drugs and more deaths.

Ruane said he is on board with the sheriff’s office to almost double its narcotics unit from 24 detectives to 44.

And the state attorney’s office has also requested a budget increase of $460,000 to investigate more drugs cases.

While people come to Southwest Florida for its beaches, they don’t want to see more of the drug scene.

“We don’t want to paint the picture that there is some massive drug problem in our community but our community is not immune either,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman.

The increase in detectives will cost the county $2 million a year.

Hamman said that’s a small price to pay when you consider the LCSO budget is $200 million.

The sheriff’s office declined an interview request because Marceno will make his case on Tuesday at the commissioners’ meeting.

However, they sent us the following statement:

“Sheriff Carmine Marceno is committed to fighting the opioid crisis, and keeping residents safe from deadly narcotics. As one of his initiatives, Sheriff Carmine Marceno has dedicated resources to remove a significant number of drug dealers, as well as large quantities of narcotics and firearms off the streets of Lee County. The number of overdose deaths and seized narcotics has consistently increased over the last four years, which is why Sheriff Carmine Marceno is petitioning the Board of County Commissioners to approve funds that would double the size of our current Narcotics Unit. We are grateful for the continued support from the Lee County Manager, Roger Desjarlais, and all of the Lee County Commissioners who are instrumental in our mission.”

Statewide Medical Examiners Commission 2020 Report


  • 42% increase in opioid caused deaths (6,089 cases)
  • 63% increase in deaths caused by fentanyl (most illegal narcotics-related deaths were caused by fentanyl – 5,302)

21st District (Glades, Hendry & Lee)

  • 269 deaths caused by fentanyl
  • 184 of those deaths were people between the age 18 to 50

Overdose Deaths worked by LCSO:

  • 2019 – 118 cases
  • 2020 – 166 cases
  • 2021 – 190 cases
  • 2022 – Over 20 cases (currently on pace for over 200 cases)

LCSO Narcotics Statistics for 2021:

  • Seized 17,706 grams (17.7 KILOS) of Cocaine – 478% increase since 2020
  • Seized 10,288 grams (10.2 KILOS) of Crystal meth – 352% increase since 2020
  • Seized 6,597 (6.5 KILOS) grams of Fentanyl – 265% increase since 2020
  • Seized 91 firearms – 35.8% increase from 2020

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