SARASOTA- After noticing an uptick in gun violence in Sarasota, Sarasota Police began a multi-agency operation to get weapons out of the community. 82 firearms, including handguns, rifles and shotguns were taken off the street for Operation S.U.R.G.E. Sarasota Unified Reduction Gun Enhancement.

“You count the number of bullets in those guns,” Chief DiPino said. “And the number of guns, you’re talking hundreds and hundreds of lives that were spared, and I’m not talking just death, lives can be damaged by injury, by threat of violence, those guns were going to do harm to people within the community.”

As of Tuesday, 95 individuals have been arrested and officers are continuing to look for 11 additional wanted individuals.

“Anyone that’s willing to go and sell a gun out on the street is showing boldness,” DiPino said. “And shows a danger to our community, each of these individuals that are selling guns out on the street, each have their own capacity that they need to be behind bars.”

Sarasota Police worked with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms during the investigation ATF Special Agent In Charge Daryl McCrary says it’s one of the largest he’s seen.

“Even within the region I’m in which is considered the eastern region,” McCrary said. “This is the highest number of people we’ve arrested in one place, in one operation like this, this year.”

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino says these were not old, broken down firearms.

“You take a look at those weapons,” Chief DiPinos said. “These are high-quality weapons, very expensive and quality weapons that could cause a lot of damage in the community.”

Undercover Officers recorded the arrests with audio and video equipment, and Chief DiPino commended them for risking their lives. 

“You don’t know if their intent is to rob you of the money you brought to purchase those weapons for,” Chief DiPino said. “Or if they’re going to use those weapons to hurt you, you just have no idea.

The investigation is ongoing with officers and agents now looking into how these weapons got to the streets in the first place.