Multi-agency task force leads to 29 arrests in 5-month county drug sting

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A network of drug dealers and distributors operating out of Stevens Park in south county has been shut down after a 5-month long investigation involving numerous law enforcement agencies.

In all, 29 people were arrested and at least two others are being sought. Authorities seized seven vehicles, one modified AR-15 assault rifle, two other firearms, $18,000 in cash, more than three-quarters of a kilo of cocaine, more than two pounds of marijuana and 1,200 prescription drug pills. “Today is a much safer day in Indian River County,” Sheriff Deryl Loar said during his announcement of Operation Stimulant Package.

Members of the Sheriff’s Office Multi-Agency Criminal Enforcement Unit – including officers from the Fellsmere and Sebastian police departments, the Indian River Shores Public Safety Department, DEA and ATF, and the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office worked for five months on building a case against each of the individuals.

They deployed various techniques to acquire evidence, including undercover drug buys, the use of informants and surveillance, Det. Eric Flowers said.

The operation began when the Sheriff’s Office started receiving complaints from neighbors in the Stevens Park community off 1st Street south of Vero Beach that they were noticing a high volume of traffic in the neighborhood, according to Det. Flowers.

Three of those arrested lived a few blocks away from each other in the neighborhood and used those homes to distribute their drugs to other dealers, the detective said. Most of those drugs included crack cocaine, marijuana, and Oxycodone.

The taskforce made the busts mostly on April 7, rounding up as many suspects as they could. They nearly missed one of the main suspects, Chris Brown, who they caught as he was packing up the house to leave.

“You can only put so much pressure” on a neighborhood before the suspects catch on, Det. Michael Dilks said.

Brown is considered No. 2 in the organization, with fellow Stevens Park resident Risto Wyatt No. 1.

The detectives said Brown and Wyatt would acquire the drugs together and then distribute them within the network. Brown would also distribute to drug users, they said.

Authorities are searching for one suspect they have a warrant issued for – Brown’s wife, Chequita Brown. She might be traveling in a 2000 silver Chevy Monte Carlo with a tag of 247YHW.

The investigation is ongoing, Sheriff Loar said.

Though the operation centered on south county, both Sebastian and Fellsmere police departments were involved due to having officers who are members of the MACE Unit.

“We are concerned,” Sebastian Police Chief Michelle Morris said, adding that when drugs enter the county, no matter where, it affects everyone.

Fellsmere Police Chief Scott Melanson said that many of those arrested had been seen in Fellsmere.

This is the first major long-term undertaking the Sheriff’s Office has done. The last one was in 2006, according to Undersheriff Bud Spencer.

Anyone with information regarding Chequita Brown’s whereabouts or about the organization is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office by calling (772) 569-6700.

Those arrested include:

Risto Wyatt

Chris Brown

Donald Hinga

Dontray Wiggins

Lamar Jones

Lanisa Justice

Marvin Raulerson

Mark Fratcher

Samantha Engel

Sharon Alvarez

Christine Philblad

Diane Kunisch

Michael Pesce

Ronald Adams

Paul Jaber

Kane Fisher

Stephanie Harper

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