Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Undercover Hillsborough sheriff's sting nets 69 guns from felons

TAMPA — Hillsborough deputies noticed an increase in black-market guns on the streets, so they went undercover.

Their mission: to buy the firearms from the felons then arrest them.

In six months, deputies recovered 84 guns — 69 from convicted felons — including a machine gun and sawed-off shotguns.

They made 15 arrests in Operation Seize-Fire and have 18 outstanding warrants, Sheriff David Gee announced Friday. The youngest offender is 14.

At a news conference Friday, Gee held one of the weapons.

"Short-barreled shotguns are made for one reason: as an anti-personnel weapon," Gee said. "That's the only reason a weapon like this exists."

Both Gee and Virginia O'Brien, the special agent in charge of Tampa's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said they've noticed an increase in the number of illegal guns in circulation.

"At one time, guns were difficult to buy on the street," Gee said. "Now you can buy guns like you could by crack cocaine a few years ago."

O'Brien said a cumulative effect is partly to blame. Old firearms remain on the streets — one gun that an undercover deputy bought was reported stolen in 1982, for instance. And new guns continue to be rapidly manufactured, O'Brien said.

Gee is especially troubled that most of the officers recently killed in Florida were suspected to have been shot by felons, who cannot legally possess guns.

For him, that was motivation enough to launch the operation.

The youngest offender, a Tampa 14-year-old, already had convictions for burglary, grand theft and battery on a school employee, Gee said.

Though the boy arranged the sale to an undercover officer, he sent a friend to carry it out because he was confined by house arrest, Gee said.

The operation, though successful in taking dozens of illegal guns off the street, doesn't solve the problem, Gee said.

The Sheriff's Office is working with state legislators to increase prison time for felons caught in possession of firearms.

Gee wants to make it a first-degree felony instead of a second-degree felony, which could double offenders' prison time.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Undercover Hillsborough sheriff's sting nets 69 guns from felons 03/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 25, 2011 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn proposes $974 million budget for 2018

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn today proposed a $974.2 million budget for next year that would raise the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989 and use the additional revenue to improve parks, expand fire service and prepare for looming financial challenges in the years ahead.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presented his proposed $974.2 million budget for 2018 to the City Council on Thursday. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times (2016)
  2. A second chance at life, away from the game he loved

    The Heater

    Dylan Delso, a catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays' Gulf Coast League team, displays his scar at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. On June 25, 2016 Delso fell backward down a flight of stairs, suffering a nearly fatal head injury that put him in a coma for eight days. He's finally back on the baseball field after a miraculous recovery.
  3. Florida house where O.J. Simpson lived listed for $1.3 million

    Crime

    MIAMI — What happened to the Florida home where O.J. Simpson lived with his children after his acquittal in the death of his ex-wife and her friend?

    O.J. Simpson explains his golf scoring to his daughter, Sydney, as he played golf on Key Biscayne in Miami in 1997. The house south of Miami where Simpson lived with Sydney and his son, Justin, until his 2008 conviction in an armed robbery involving two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas, is on the market. [AP photo]
  4. Behind the lens: To capture an exhilarating moment, it's better to be lucky AND good

    Travel

    Editor's note: Boyzell Hosey, our Assistant Managing Editor - Photography/Multimedia, shot this image while on a family vacation in Alaska. Below is his description of the shot.

  5. Council candidate James Scott sees a green future for St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — James Scott's central tenet is sustainability.

    St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate James Scott. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   TIMES]