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14 arrested in Tarpon crackdown on cocaine

Police made 14 more arrests in the past week in a continuing effort to put a dent in the city's drug trade.

The arrests came from both reverse sting operations and a federal raid on two homes.

"Hopefully we will send a message to drug users that Tarpon is not the place to go," acting police Chief Lt. Mark LeCouris said.

Police made a number of arrests in a reverse sting operation in Mango Circle and charged the people with buying crack cocaine from undercover detectives.

Federal drug agents also made their own arrests in the continuing pursuit of dealers. Federal agents arrested Ernest Lee Hardy Sr., 52, of 518 E Lime St. and Charles Burrowes Jr., 32, of North Avenue. Officials say Hardy and Burrowes stepped into the breach created with the arrests two weeks ago of Patrick and Renelle Saunders.

Patrick Saunders faces federal charges of distribution of cocaine and one count each of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and firearm violations. His brother Renelle Saunders is charged with distribution of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Both are being held without bail.

Burrowes is charged with money laundering, distribution of cocaine and federal firearms violations. He was being held without bail.

Hardy faces three federal charges of distribution of cocaine.

LeCouris said the two took over the large-scale drug-buying and selling business. In addition to the arrests, federal agents seized all assets of the two, including a Mercedes recently purchased for $12,000.

"They were doing everything _ bringing it in, cooking it and dealing it," he said. "But now they are looking at some serious time because of the federal charges."