SANFORD, Fla. -- Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma doesn't put much stock into law enforcement monikers like "protect and serve."
As far as Central Florida's most progressive sheriff is concerned, actions speak louder than words.
Taking such cliches a step further, Lemma impreses upon his deputies the need for multiple interactions with the citizens in the working-class communities where newer apartment complexes dwarf older Florida-style homes, with palm tree clusters, acting as buffers to gas stations, convenience stores, fast-food eateries, and pharmacies.
"Because the people out there need to to see that "cops care," Lemma said, insisting the interactions are just as important in the more upscale communities with lush-green lawns, stately oak trees and the occasional golf course down the road.
Seminole County’s figures for opioid-related drug overdoses and deaths pale in comparison to the grim statistics in neighboring Volusia County on the other side of the St. Johns Bridge and of Orange County, further south, and west on Interstate 4.
Like its adjoining neighboring counties, Volusia and Orange, Seminole's drug-related figures have steadily risen each year since 2015, just not as dramatically. Sheriff Lemma is thankful for that, heaping praise on his deputies for the interactions since taking office on Jan. 1, 2017.
Since 2015, the synthetic opioids resulted in 398 overdoses and 45 deaths in Seminole County.
Heroin dealer charged with homicide in overdose death
Seminole County investigators back in January charged Sanford man with homicide in connection with the death of a Lake Mary man who overdosed on heroin.
On Oct. 18, investigators were called to a home on Copper Ridge Court in reference to an overdose death. 28-year- old Edward Paul Mitschele Jr. was discovered by a family member unresponsive in a bathroom. Upon investigation, it was determined that the victim died from a mixture of heroin and fentanyl.
Through further investigation, agents were able to establish a link between the victim and 29-year-old Nelson J. Larregui of Sanford. When investigators made contact with Larregui at his apartment complex, he started running. During his attempt to evade deputies, Larregui took something out of his pocket and threw it into the bushes.
After a short foot pursuit, Larregui was taken into custody. A baggie retrieved from the bushes contained three smaller baggies containing a substance which tested positive for heroin. The suspect was arrested on drug charges and booked into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility.
The Medical Examiner’s final autopsy report determined the cause of Mitschele’s death to be the result of a heroin and fentanyl overdose. Through the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Larregui was the individual who supplied Mitschele the illegal drugs. CCIB agents then obtained a warrant for Larregui’s arrest. On January 4, contact was made with Larregui at the JEPCF, and he was additionally charged with first-degree felony murder-unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. Investigative Reports: How Safe Are We? Daytona Beach most dangerous city in Florida; 34th in US