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52 arrested on drug charges in Clay County, part of drug crackdown

The arrests were a part of a months-long strategic plan to crack down on drug dealers and eliminate fentanyl in the county.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Fifty-two people have been arrested on drug charges after a months-long crackdown in Clay County, Sheriff Michelle Cook announced Wednesday.

Cook said the initiative was intended to get dangerous drugs off the street, including fentanyl, which she called a "silent killer." Cook said fentanyl is being mixed with other dangerous drugs and has no taste or smell to allow users to detect it.

One of the arrests announced was Cherie Nicole House, who was arrested for manslaughter. Police say she was culpable in the fentanyl overdose death of Nicholas Arrick in October 2022. 

The other 51 arrested were charged with several drug crimes, including sale and delivery of meth, trafficking fentanyl, possession of fentanyl, possession of meth, possession of marijuana, obtaining an illegal substance by fraud, and the sale and delivery of buprenorphine (an opioid). 

There are five outstanding suspects that CCSO is seeking as part of this initiative: 

  • Harley Pearson II (charges of sale and delivery of meth)
  • Austen Levi Downs (charges of sale and delivery of fentanyl, sale and delivery of meth)
  • Michael Robert Van Ness (conspiracy to traffic fentanyl and trafficking of fentanyl)
  • Alfonso Flores Arrieta (possession of meth)
  • Paul Eugene Simmons (possession of fentanyl)

The sheriff's office asks that you call (904) 264-6512 if you have any other information.

CCSO is also spearheading outreach programs, including the third annual Hammer and Hope event on Friday. The sheriff's office was also able to take back 394 pounds of medications during a drug take back program in partnership with the DEA, Cook announced Wednesday.


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