TAVARES, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Heroin and synthetic heroin, called fentanyl, are a growing problem in Lake County. Last year, the county saw 11 deaths, in 2014 there were two.
Sheriff Peyton Grinnell turned to social media to talk about it, and it went viral.
“Enjoy trying to sleep tonight, wondering if tonight's the night our SWAT team blows your front door off the hinges,” Grinnell warns in the video.
Grinnell means business.
“To the dealers,” he says, “I say enjoy looking over your shoulder, wondering if today's the day we come for you!”
Flanked by masked drug unit agents, staring right into the camera, he tells drug dealers: not in my county.
“We're coming for you,” he says, “as a matter of fact, our undercover agents have already bought heroin from many of you!”
Hundreds of thousands have watching it online, so far. Grinnell says he’s shocked. “I had no idea it would get the traction it's gotten on social media, especially for just doing my job,” he said.
Not all of the video’s comments have been positive. Some saw the video looks like an ISIS terrorist propaganda video. But Grinnell says this is no act, the men standing beside him are real undercover agents trying to clean up the streets.
“State statute requires me not to release their identity and to do so would be ludicrous,” Grinnell explains, “they wanted to be a part of this proactive stance on us attacking the poison in this county and I was glad to see that.”
We took the viral video to the streets, and there's no question it had people talking.
“Using images that are dramatic - maybe over the top violent - has potential to damage that, even if that's not the intended consequence,” one man said, “I don't think Sheriff Grinnell's intention, I don't think he's trying to create a problem.”
“It was fairly powerful but I feel it could have been a little stronger,” said another, “with more people besides him on the force.”
Grinnell says there's more to come - and they're pursuing a major operation that we'll be hearing more about, soon.