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Date of Issue: October 04, 2007

Holmes Beach woman arrested in meth bust

Denise Potter

A Holmes Beach woman was among the 19 people arrested last week in a multi-agency effort to curb the sale of methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine, also known as “crystal meth” or “ice,” has been a growing problem in northern cities and rural communities, but the illegal manufacture, sale and use of the drug has thus far escaped big headlines on the Florida Gulf Coast.

Early Sept. 25, a sweep led by the Bradenton Police Department resulted in the arrest of 19 people and the seizure of 32 pounds of meth, as well as cocaine, a homemade bomb and some firearms, according to court records. The investigation and sweep involved BPD, Manatee and Sarasota county sheriff’s offices and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. The sweep was code-named “Operation Broken Ice.”

Denise Potter, 39, of Holmes Beach, was arrested for conspiracy to purchase methamphetamine.

Authorities also arrested Amanda K. Stoothoff, 21, Sarasota for possession of cocaine; John Parsons, 24, Palmetto, conspiracy to purchase controlled substance; Kenneth J. Gardner, 29, Palmetto, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; Rogelio Velez, 26, Bradenton, trafficking methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic cocaine, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, conspiracy to commit armed robbery; Ricardo Velez, 19, Bradenton, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to traffic cocaine, conspiracy to sell rock cocaine, possession of cocaine; Eugene A. Washington Jr., 19, Oneco, conspiracy to traffic cocaine; Leonel Tribilant, 37, Bradenton, conspiracy to traffic cocaine, conspiracy to sell rock cocaine, conspiracy to sell marijuana; April A. Sanchez, 31, Bradenton, conspiracy to purchase methamphetamine; Shirley L. Fannin, 40, Bradenton, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, sale of methamphetamine; William D. Willis Jr., 40, Bradenton, conspiracy to sell methamphetamine, conspiracy to purchase methamphetamine; Danielle N. Wells, 18, Bradenton, conspiracy to purchase marijuana; and Stewart O. Gatewood, 35, Bradenton, sale of methamphetamine.

“Operation Broken Ice,” according to Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, was intended to prevent a blizzard in Bradenton and the county.

“If we hadn’t done this and this had gotten out on the street, there’s no telling how many crimes would have been committed by people using that stuff,” Poston told the press during a news conference Sept. 25.

Authorities estimated the meth seized had a street value of about $575,000.

Crystal meth is considered a highly addictive drug that with long-term use can cause addiction, anxiety, insomnia, mood disturbances and violent behavior. The drug can also cause paranoia, hallucinations and delusions, especially the sensation of bugs under the skin. Two telltale signs of abuse are “meth-mouth” - the rotting of the teeth as a result of meth use, and open sores, which are the result of scratching at bugs that don’t exist.