Lee County commissioners approve budget increase for LCSO to fight drug crimes

Reporter: Breana Ross
Lee County commissioners approved a budget increase for the sheriff’s narcotics division.

The Lee County commissioners are giving $2 million more to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to hire 20 more deputies.

The larger budget is to target drugs in Lee County.

In 2018, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office worked 118 overdose deaths. In 2020, that number rose to 166.

This year, the sheriff’s office said they are on track to work more than 200 overdose deaths, but with a bigger narcotics team, Sheriff Carmine Marceno hopes to reduce that number as soon as possible.

More illegal drugs on the streets create a domino effect. Not just more arrests, but more deaths too.

“This epidemic of death is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it,” Marceno said. “You push poison on these streets, we are coming for you. We are going to hunt you down and you were going to prison.”

In 2021, the amount of fentanyl LCSO seized was up 265% compared to 2020.

The amount of meth seized was up 352%. And the amount of cocaine seized was up by 478%.

The sheriff blames the increase in drugs on population growth and on the number of drugs coming through the Mexican border.

“The Mexican border is just wide-open,” Marceno said.

Now, the sheriff will have more help getting drugs off of the streets.

His narcotic team will grow to 44 after the commissioners approved the $2 million for the sheriff’s office.

Commissioners also gave the state attorney’s office an extra $460,000 to prosecute more drug cases.

Commissioner Brian Hamman said the investment will help boost Lee County’s economy down the line.

“The first thing you look at when you look at coming to communities especially if you were going to invest in that community is, is it a safe place? Is this a good place to put my money or my life savings,” Hamman said. “If we lose that, if we lose our safety, then yes that will be the worst thing to happen to our economy.”

Hamman also said that Lehigh Acres is one of most affordable places in the county for families to live so he is happy the sheriff is putting extra narcotics teams there to help make if one of the safest, too.


Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.