Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa police seek hundreds in their biggest warrant roundup

Authorities in Tampa lead Rosa Adan-Moret, 49, away in handcuffs on Tuesday. She had an outstanding warrant for a charge of trafficking a controlled substance and was picked up as part of Operation Summer Heat. 

Tampa Police Department

Authorities in Tampa lead Rosa Adan-Moret, 49, away in handcuffs on Tuesday. She had an outstanding warrant for a charge of trafficking a controlled substance and was picked up as part of Operation Summer Heat. 

TAMPA — Thousands of Tampa crime suspects live freely despite outstanding arrest warrants against them. For months, years — sometimes decades — they elude police, wanted for crimes as terrible as murder.

And Mayor Bob Buckhorn wants that to end.

On Tuesday, Tampa police launched what they say is the biggest warrant roundup in the department's history.

With nearly 6,000 outstanding warrants on the list, the police department's first action was to execute 459 violent felony warrants, including eight for murder.

By late afternoon, police had arrested 33 people. Another 39 warrants were cleared because the suspects are either dead or in prison. The roundup continues through Friday.

At dawn, officers participating in Operation Summer Heat gathered in a Sulphur Springs parking lot. They donned tactical vests, aware of the danger they faced. Two of the recent fatal police shootings in the bay area happened during warrant arrests.

"These (wanted) individuals have nothing to lose," police Chief Jane Castor said. "They certainly don't want to go back to jail."

But one question lingered: Why are violent felons — murder suspects, especially — not already behind bars? Aren't they priority cases?

They are, Castor said, but she noted that the 459 outstanding felony warrants — some that date to the 1970s — make up less than 1 percent of the Tampa police's yearly arrests. It's a small fraction that gets away.

The outstanding warrants don't exist for lack of trying, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. Police often spend weeks visiting various addresses where a subject is known to stay.

Sometimes the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force gets involved right away, especially if the suspect is in another county or state.

When police efforts fail, an officer sends the suspect's information to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which has a warrants division with 12 detectives who work exclusively on tracking down the wanted.

They scour databases to find addresses associated with the subject.

Then they interview neighbors, family and friends, picking up clues.

"It's hard to run forever," said sheriff's Master Detective Marvin Johnson, who works in the division.

Though some of the cases are decades old, he said they're never considered "cold." Detectives pick up old cases routinely.

The roundup is helpful, he said, because it offers a brief spike in manpower, which nets bigger results.

Law enforcement does these types of roundups routinely, but Tampa police say this is their largest, and Castor credits Buckhorn, who included an effort like this in his campaign platform.

At about 6:30 a.m., he spoke to the officers, pumping them up like a coach before the big game.

"There are 400 people in bed right now with visions of their next victim dancing through their heads," he said. "Well, guess what? Game over."

Then, with coffee in one hand and a tactical vest in the other, he walked toward a marked patrol car. He was going with them.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or


Outstanding warrants

Violent felonies: 459

Misdemeanors: 1,089

Civil warrants: 250

Traffic warrants: 1,970

Probation violations: 917

Economic crimes: 166

Felony narcotic warrants: 427

Warrants more than 20 years old: 449

Source: Tampa Police Department

Tampa police seek hundreds in their biggest warrant roundup 07/26/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4


    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  2. Sheriff's Office: Drug dispute preceded fatal Largo motel shooting


    LARGO — A fight over drugs preceded the shooting death of a 47-year-old man Thursday night at a Largo motel, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

    Angel E. Martinez, 24, is accused in the shooting death of Ricky Garland, 47, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. [Pinellas County Jail]
  3. Nearly 40 hospitalized on first day of Sunset Music Festival, on pace to exceed last year


    To reduce the number of medical emergencies this year, sponsors of the Sunset Music Festival promised heightened security and safety measures during this weekend's event at Raymond James Stadium.

    Thousands of people crowd the main stage at the Sunset Music Festival on Saturday in the north Raymond James Stadium parking area. The temperature at the time of the photo was 92 degrees. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
  4. Woman killed in overnight Temple Terrace apartment fire, city says


    TEMPLE TERRACE — A woman died early Sunday as a result of a fire at an apartment complex, city officials said.

  5. Video: Indianapolis 500 drivers in fiery crash somehow walk away uninjured

    Auto racing

    Scott Dixon and Jay Howard avoided injury in a spectacular crash - or what Dixon labeled "a wild ride" afterward - during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.