Florida Sheriff Produces Absurd, Threatening Video over Small Number of Drug-Related Deaths

You'd think Lake County must be some sort of trafficking hotbed. It's not.


A group of armed, masked men brazenly posted a video on Facebook recently threatening to violently bust down the doors of American citizens and invade their homes.

It's okay, though. They're law enforcement! Lake County, Florida, Sheriff Peyton Grinnell has put out a video where he, surrounded by masked men, threaten drug dealers in the county that his officers are tracking them down and plan to send SWAT teams into their houses at some undefined time and "blow [their] front doors off the hinges."

Watch the video below:

Well, one only hopes those masks they're wearing don't obscure their ability to read addresses properly. We would hate for a poorly organized SWAT raid at the wrong home to run smack into the state's "Stand Your Ground" gun laws.

Grinnell claims this over-the-top video, which is being compared to threatening ISIS propaganda films, is due to calls he's getting from citizens concerned about heroin overdoses in his county. So claiming that he's just waiting for some existing warrants to get signed is really for the benefit of these callers and not actual drug dealers.

Let's not dismiss citizens' concerns entirely. Florida, like many other states, has seen a dramatic increase in deaths involving heroin, cocaine and the opioid fentanyl, according to an annual report by state medical examiners for 2015.

This doesn't mean, though, that such an absurd, militaristic approach is called for. Don't look to Florida if you're looking for examples of easing off the drug war, though they finally (after two attempts) legalized medical marijuana use. Florida still has laws on the books that allow anybody who provided somebody else with a prohibited drug to be charged with first degree murder if that drug causes their death. And Florida has the death penalty (technically‚ÄĒthere are still some issues there). Grinnell points this out in the video that he wants to hold those evil, evil drug dealers responsible for these deaths.

But while law enforcement and prosecutors want to present the idea that this is about getting "drug dealers," that's really not what the law says and it's not how these laws get enforced. If there's anything we should have learned from our experience in how mandatory minimums have played out in federal prosecutions, they are used to throw poor people who have made mistakes into prison for absurdly long sentences disproprtionate to the circumstances of the crimes.

And Florida's considering making its drug war laws even harsher by adding fentanyl, the latest drug panic, to the list of pharmaceuticals that could trigger a murder charge.

Yet, while Lake County has seen dramatic drug death increases, there's nothing in the medical examiners' report from 2015 that showed anything that should be especially alarming enough to justify this response. The district that Lake County is part of saw only eight deaths due to heroin in 2015. It saw 30 deaths due to cocaine, and 191 deaths caused by prescription drugs, only 10 of which involved fentanyl. The prescription drug deaths were actually in decline; fewer people in this sheriff's area died of prescription drugs in 2015 than they did in 2014. So even as fentanyl is taking off as an opioid choice, overall prescription drug deaths declined.

While the state has not put out full numbers yet, Lake County has apparently reported 32 cases in 2016 where heroin caused or contributed to a person's death. That's certainly an increase, but the county has a population of more than 300,000. This response is notable in its absurdity given the actual threat presented to the population.

The sheriff's response is not likely to make his community safer; he's going to be busting down doors and threatening harm not to the slick drug dealers he sees on television shows, but to his county's poorest citizens. That's not something to be puffing up his chest about.

NEXT: The Conservative Schism on Legalizing Pot

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  1. Cops don’t wear masks in a free country.

    1. What about super badass ninja cops? They have to wear them as, um, camouflage or something?

    2. Don’t you know how cold it gets in Florida?

      1. The jellyfish swarms have gotten pretty bad.

    3. You said free country. In my lifetime, I’ve seen our our police departments change (morph really) into militaristic garb and philosophy. This mindset has damaged our society. This war on drugs has failed miserably. The approach does not work in the long run, otherwise this sheriff would have never made this video. ANd his officers wouldn’t be disguised.

      Remember the “war on drugs” started in the early 70’s with Nixon. 40 plus years of failure.

  2. I’m guessing the sheriff knows his audience.

  3. Charge the dealer for murder because a client od’d? I don’t think “murder” means what he thinks it means.

  4. “Comments are disabled for this video.”

  5. Why do these cops always have such a hard-on for god-awful fonts? Some kind of psychological thing about fonts that slant to the right and how they look aggressive?

    1. I was hoping for Comic Sans.

      1. Way to other quadriplegics, guys.

        1. Skip called from his water-skiing vacation to say he was quite offended.

          1. He’s luckier than Bob who fell overboard and got left behind.

            1. Hold on, Mat’s at the door…

      2. The new symbol depicts a wheelchair user leaning forward pushing their own chair. This active stance showcases that people with disabilities are not just passive, sedentary beings, but rather active, independent members of society.

        Except they get to park really close. It’s unfortunate the new symbol looks like a guy trying to escape getting literally reamed out again.

        1. Did you know that Connecticut specifies blindness in the list of disabilities that let you get a handicapped parking placard? True story.

          1. Placards can be issued to passengers, not just drivers. And it’s better than issuing them to people who’s only disability in not being able to see their feet.

        2. The new symbol looks like they are always in a hurry, which will justify in people’s minds why they need to park so close.

  6. Because we are a free country, cops have wear masks sometimes. I would submit to the author if your crime rose to the level of federal prosecution, it we pretty serious. If someone was convicted of a drug crime in federal court, originally there were several other charges which were dropped because of the duration and ease of drug crime prosecution. Almost every one of these cases were plead down to just the drug charge. Both of these situations save a lot of money for the courts. Every one of these convictions originally had at least one or more firearm charge and one or more conspiracy charge. You have to look past what the conviction was to the original charges. You might have a different opinion then. The one person in Florida released early by President Obama for “non-violent” drug offense had already done time for conspiracy to commit murder and was charged with that again for his drug trial.

    With regard to the purpose of this article, the sheriff’s approach is a little bit over the top for the number of cases listed. However, due to its central and fairly rural location, there could be dealers who live there, but sell elsewhere. I would surmise someone very close to him died from an overdose.

    1. Making the jobs of police and prosecutors easier is one of the worst arguments there is for drug prohibition (and they are all bad). If these people committed serious crimes, they should be tried for the serious crimes. Making it easier to get violent criminals to take a plea deal isn’t worth locking up innocent people for decades (and I consider anyone who commits no crime but possession, sale or use of drugs innocent).

    2. He’s gunning for a TV series. Sheriff, Peyton Grinell, Heroin Hunter.

    3. “I would surmise someone very close to him died from an overdose.”

      Then that’s even worse reason for someone to call for more “law and order”, considering that those closest to victims are the furthest from dealing with the issue in a reasonable, *constitutional* manner.

      I think plenty of people are tired of the ridiculous mindset that emotional reaction is somehow more “credible.”

  7. I can only assume Sheriff Grinnell already has plans for an ultimate weapon, so really all that’s missing is the burn scars and breathing disorder.

    For a group constantly subjected to a war that they didn’t start, they really seem eager to identify as mindless, faceless clones.

  8. This isn’t absurd, it’s outrageous. Why is there a comma after sheriff?

    Also, someone needs to arrest their steroids dealer.

    1. I was disappointed that they cut off before beheading one of their American hostages.

      1. They’re cops, not savages.

        They only maim them with flash bangs.

    2. Commas read as pauses, and add drama to otherwise dull and doughy names. Give it a try yourself Fist, of Etiquette.

      1. If he’s using it correctly it would come after his name, with the title at the end, as in “Sergeant Frank Drebin, Detective Lieutenant, Police Squad”.

        Maybe it’s a 1, not a comma. Is this ISIS video (as mad suggested above) footnoted?

        1. Surely, you must be kidding!

          1. Don’t call him Surely.


              1. It made me picture Leslie Nielsen’s face. I can’t do that with hearing that phrase.

      2. What about Fist of, Etiquette?

    3. When a roided out cop (which is all of them these days it seems) kills someone, their supplier should be charged with murder.

    4. Look at them all again as they walk off. I’m pretty sure their cheeseburger dealer is a bigger problem…

  9. If this plan really did come about as a result of citizens’ complaints about “too many deaths,” something tells me that a non-militaristic alternative such as, I don’t know, treatment centers, supervised injection sites and needle exchange programs, etc. was not even considered for a second.

    I mean, that’s not cool, fun, and totally AWESOME like a SWAT team — riot gear and stun grenades at the ready — descending on a darkened home where the occupants, including maybe a toddler, are sound asleep, is it? I get the impression the Sheriff’s Department consists of 12-year-olds playing at being grownups. I know for sure which solution any red-blooded pre-teen boy would choose.

    But what happens if they blow the front door off the hinges and there is no evidence of drugs found inside because they got the wrong house? Oh never mind… I’m sure the valiant sheriff will make sure that damaging evidence is found inside — one way or another.

    1. “…I don’t know, treatment centers, supervised injection sites and needle exchange programs, etc. was not even considered for a second.”

      Programs? How about plain old personal responsibility: mess with that shit and die on your own dime.

      “Fuck you. Cut spending”

      1. Programs? How about plain old personal responsibility: mess with that shit and die on your own dime.

        I presumed/hoped his assertion was that the people of Lake County wanted something done and idiotically called the sheriff by default. I agree that I’d rather see treatment centers and injection sites that make EMTs and medical professionals/volunteers look like saving angels rather than police officers look like jihadis, but if they want to spend their tax dollars swatting each other, that’s on them.

        1. Then let the citizens of Lake County make private charitable contributions to save idiots from their suicidal imbecility. Other than that: “Fuck you. Cut spending”.

          1. It is currently illegal to operate either a needle exchange or safe injection site in Florida no matter how it is funded. If police, law makers, et Al would gtf out of the way, exchanges or safe injection site could be easily funded through AIDS charity funds. They cost next to nothing to operate. Better yet: stop threatening to investigate Florida pharmacies that legally sell needles to customers without a prescription or diabetic card.

            All of this comes back to the state. All of it.

  10. Florida Sheriff Produces Absurd, Threatening Video over Small Number of Drug-Related Deaths

    “A group of armed, masked men brazenly posted a video on Facebook recently threatening to violently bust down the doors of American citizens and invade their homes.

    It’s okay, though. They’re law enforcement! Lake County, Florida.”

    Oh, thank God!
    If there’s anyone I want to break down my door, beat me up, plant evidence to incriminate me, cuff me and ransack my house, please let it be a bunch of jackbooted thugs with guns from the government.
    That always makes me sleep better at night.

  11. Dude looks like he’s dipping into the coke/speed stash. Maybe he’s just mad because heroin users are usually too relaxed…

  12. That last guy on the right had a serious gimp vibe walking away. Hilarious video.

    1. This is what made it seem like an Al Qaeda terrorist video to me. Were I an enterprising criminal of any sort in Lake County, I now know the approximate height, weight, handedness, and (lack of) hand tattoos of four ‘deputes’.

      I suppose the upshot is that Peyton at least had the good sense not to display the flag.

  13. Actually, on second look, it appears the only steroids they’re taking in are the ones found in the daily diet of Big Macs. Really, heroin dealers, know your customer type. If the guy buying your wares isn’t rail thin but instead this “big boned” you might want consider it’s an undercover narcotics officer/morality police.

  14. They are getting destroyed on Facebook.

  15. What an embarrassment. Since when do cops wear masks?

    Also, threatening people, drawing weapons, and busting shit up to solve a drug problem makes about as much sense as doing to same to car dealers to stop a traffic death problem. What morons.

    1. This is what happens when you exist in a bubble. Police tend to associate primarily with other police, and the echo chamber makes them completely unself-aware. That tends to passed down to new members of the fraternity through training and policy, and when the inevitable pushback comes from the community, wagons get circled and you end up with the us-against-them mentality of today’s law enforcement.

      1. Plus many of them are born douchefucks and seek the type of employment that suits them.

        1. Stop making sense.

          1. lol

  16. Peyton C. Grinnell? Florida should hire better writers, this is simply not a believable name.

  17. Did he just invite people to anonymously report people they have a grudge against, I mean heroin dealers, so these masked goons can invade their homes?

    Good thing this power is in such responsible hands.

  18. “overdoses related to heroin”, hm ?

    “What with all this heroin around, donut overdoses are at an all-time high!”

  19. Well, one only hopes those masks they’re wearing don’t obscure their ability to read addresses properly. We would hate for a poorly organized SWAT raid at the wrong home to run smack into the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun laws.

    Be careful what you wish for! Late one night Florida man Andrew Scott and his girlfriend:

    heard a loud banging at the front door. Scott, who was understandably disturbed, retrieved the handgun that he lawfully owned, then opened the door with the gun pointed safely down. Outside, he saw a shadowy figure holding a pistol. He began to retreat inside and close the door when the figure fired six shots without warning, three of which hit Scott, killing him. Scott hadn’t fired a single bullet or even lifted his firearm.
    The figure outside was Deputy Richard Sylvester. He failed to identify himself as a law enforcement officer at any point. He had no warrant and no reason to suspect that Scott or his girlfriend had committed a crime. He did not attempt to engage with Scott at all after he opened the door; he simply shot him dead.

    The 11th Circuit have now held “that Scott’s parents and girlfriend cannot sue Sylvester because the officer’s conduct was not ‘clearly’ illegal. The court’s reasoning? [The doctrine of q]ualified immunity” which “bars individuals from suing the government for violating their rights unless those rights were ‘clearly established’.”

  20. All the heroin dealers I know keep a close watch on the Sheriffs FBook page. The main pic on their FBook page is SWAT guys and an explosion of some sort.

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