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Tampa police sweep brings 30 arrests

Law officers arrest Sebastian Scaife near 29th and 31st on charges of selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer. The effort continues today.

GEN YAMAGUCHI | Times

Law officers arrest Sebastian Scaife near 29th and 31st on charges of selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer. The effort continues today.

TAMPA — Sebastian Scaife used every curse word imaginable to proclaim his innocence as Tampa police searched his pockets behind an unmarked car.

"It wasn't me," he shouted.

But officers said just seconds before they swooped in, he sold $20 worth of crack cocaine — stored, they believe, in his rectum.

Scaife, 45, was one of more than 30 people arrested Thursday night in a joint operation between Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the Tampa Police Department.

Operation "Nowhere to Run" targeted drug dealers and people with warrants for economic crimes such as robbery, burglary and grand theft.

Police expected to arrest more people as the operation, which began Thursday, continues through tonight.

Tampa Capt. John Newman said between October and December every year, police see a spike in crimes of opportunity.

"This November we've had a 19 percent increase, I think," Newman said.

Police hope the operation will get people off the streets who commit property crimes and decrease the calls the department receives about break-ins and stolen Christmas gifts.

"In a week we'll sit down and talk about what we did, what we liked and what we didn't like to streamline the process," Newman said. "Hopefully, we can get something like this going monthly."

On Thursday, the parking lot of Net Park, on the corner of Hillsborough Avenue and 56th Street became a mobile booking station as 40 law enforcement officials popped in and out with suspects.

By 5 p.m., officers had arrested 17 people with outstanding warrants and then they started the drug buys.

Officer Todd Stevens said the operations helped out the narcotics unit with much needed manpower.

"We usually have six or seven guys, but it's great to have 10 to 14 guys when you get into a foot chase," he said.

Stevens' undercover unit came upon Scaife at 29th Street and E Lake Avenue.

A minute after his encounter with an undercover officer, police cars roared down every side street, cutting him off in a grassy lot.

Residents came out of homes to watch Scaife being cuffed. As he protested loudly, officers learned it would not be Scaife's first visit to jail.

His arrest record includes charges of possession of cocaine, carrying a concealed knife, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

Tampa police sweep brings 30 arrests 12/04/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 10:23pm]
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