No one is more aware of the rise in drug-related and prostitution arrests on Stock Island than property owner Javier Garrido.
For more than 30 years, Garrido has owned a mixed-use building that houses residential and commercial rentals near the area of Second Avenue and Second Street, and he's had enough of the crime that has long afflicted the corner.
"What spurred all this was the beer purchase death," Garrido said. "That was the final straw. Enough is enough."
Garrido was referring to the July 7 incident in which Charles John Miller, 42, was charged with second-degree felony manslaughter in the death of another homeless man, 45-year-old Jesus Rodriguez. The death occurred because of a disagreement over beer, according to Monroe County Sheriff's Office reports.
Garrido, his family and his tenants have long noticed open-air drug sales and prostitution. So, he decided to call the sheriff's office and Monroe County Commissioner Danny Kolhage for help.
Kolhage and other deputies met with Garrido as well as leaders with Key West Baptist Temple, 5727 Second Ave., to devise a plan of attack to combat the problem.
"When they (residents) asked us to do something, they even brought along cellphone videos of the drug traffic," Kolhage said.
What followed in the next few months were a series of narcotics-related raids and arrests by detectives, as well as additional patrols. Sheriff Rick Ramsay directed staff to include not just added squad cars, but bicycle and foot patrols in the area.
A neighborhood watch was formed, and Kolhage worked with Keys Energy to install streetlights that will cost about $12 to $15 a month.
Kolhage is hoping new lighting will be a low-cost solution.
"This area near the church is a particularly difficult area," Ramsay said. "We've had problems there with people coming down from Miami to do nothing other than to sell drugs."
Ramsay called the new light a small investment for "better, cleaner and safer streets."
Garrido, who had two tenants move out this year because of the crime, reported positive changes this week.
"It's definitely noticeable, and it's definitely helping," he said.