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    Hotel is target of police raid

    More than a dozen suspects are arrested and more are sought in an undercover sting.

    By CHRIS TISCH, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 13, 2003

    CLEARWATER -- Authorities arrested more than a dozen drug and prostitution suspects this week after a four-month undercover investigation of illegal activity at the Sunshine Inn at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and U.S. 19.

    After noticing a swelling crime problem around the hotel, Clearwater police and Pinellas sheriff's deputies inserted undercover agents into the area. Agents purchased crack cocaine from suspects and were solicited by prostitutes.

    They cobbled together enough evidence to charge 25 suspects with prostitution and drug possession or sale.

    Officers and deputies descended on the hotel Tuesday afternoon and arrested more than half the suspects, who were guests at the hotel. They also served a search warrant in one of the units.

    Authorities will continue to search for the remaining wanted people, said Detective Tim Goodman, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

    Clearwater police said there had been an increasing number of complaints about illegal activity at the hotel, 20788 U.S. 19, which prompted the undercover operation.

    Agents seized more than 150 grams of crack cocaine, which has an estimated street value of more than $28,000.

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