Crime

Sheriff's Anti-Heroin Video Goes Viral, Sparks Debate (Video)

| by Michael Howard

A Florida sheriff is making waves on social media after releasing a threatening video in which he tells heroin dealers that law enforcement is coming for them (video below).

Flanked on either side by two police officers wearing balaclava-type ski masks, Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell stares into the camera and repeatedly warns dealers that "we are coming for you."

"Over the last month or so, I've had several phone calls from citizens in this county concerned about the number of overdoses related to heroin," he says. "I want our citizens to know that I am aware of this serious issue."

After encouraging residents to call in with information about where and when heroin is being sold on the streets, Peyton goes into detail about what his officers have in store for anyone pushing the drug in his county.

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"To the dealers that are pushing this poison, I have a message for you," he says. "We're coming for you. As a matter of fact, our undercover agents have already bought heroin from many of you. We are simply awaiting the arrest warrants to be finalized."

"So, to the dealers I say: Enjoy looking over your shoulder, constantly wondering if today is the day we come for you," he continues. "Enjoy trying to sleep tonight wondering if tonight is the night our SWAT team blows your front door off the hinges. We are coming for you."

Peyton then indicates that murder charges await anyone who sells heroin to a user who then dies from an overdose.

"We are coming for you," he warns again. "Run."

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The video was uploaded to the Lake County Sheriff's Office Facebook page on April 7 and has since been viewed more than 600,000 times. Hundreds of people have posted comments expressing support for Peyton's approach.

There were plenty of critical comments as well, however, with some comparing the clip to an ISIS propaganda video.

"These cops look like they're going to create a caliphate and behead moderate police officers," one person wrote on Twitter, according to the New York Daily News.

"No wonder citizens fear police," a Facebook user commented. "Black masked announcements and direct threats? Well, perhaps the citizens of your county should be grateful that you are so honest about being modern-day Gestapo."

"This is your idea of "Community Engagement"?" another asked. "How about treating this like the public health problem it is? There has been a War on Drugs going on for most of my life. Let's declare a cease fire and actually work on addressing this."

Grinnell was elected sheriff in November 2016 after running on the promise to crack down on drug-related crimes, according to the New York Daily News. The heroin video is part of his "community engagement unit," which is designed to create viral content to give certain issues more visibility.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office has not responded publicly to the video's mixed reaction.

Heroin-related deaths are on the rise throughout the state of Florida. The New York Daily News reports that 752 people died as a result of heroin abuse in 2015 alone.

Sources: Lake County Sheriff's Office/Facebook, New York Daily News / Photo credit: Todd Huffman/Flickr

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