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Step inside Carlton Reserve: Police explore 'unforgiving' terrain during search for Brian Laundrie

North Port police said about 75 percent of the reserve is underwater.

VENICE, Fla. — UPDATE (Sept. 23, 2021): A federal arrest warrant was issued for Brian Laundrie following a grand jury indictment in connection with the Gabby Petito case. Click here for the latest information.

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The search for Gabby Petito's fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is back on as law enforcement continues to comb through the nearly 25,000-acre preserve where Laundrie is believed to have been last.

He's a person of interest in Petito's disappearance and death amid what the North Port Police Department calls an FBI-led criminal investigation.

According to his family, Laundrie went on a hike at Carlton Reserve on Sept. 14 and never returned.

On Tuesday, law enforcement gave us a look at what they're up against in the search through the "vast and unforgiving" terrain of the Sarasota County park.

RELATED: Police: Search for Brian Laundrie continues Tuesday in Carlton Reserve

Commander Joe Fussell said multiple search teams throughout the preserve are using ATVs, UTVs and multiple drone operators.

"We'll mix the resources and deploy them out so that if they encounter flooded areas or terrain that they can't access with these wheeled vehicles, we'll deploy our drones directly out into the wooded areas," Fussell explained. 

Fussell added that the Lee County Sheriff's Office is assisting with special high-altitude drones that use more advanced technology to zoom into areas that are more difficult to access on the ground.

RELATED: Sharper Insight: Here's how Florida law could impact Brian Laundrie's family

"The terrain is very difficult. Essentially 75 percent of it is underwater," Fussell said.

North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor echoed this sentiment, adding that Carlton Reserve "is currently waste deep in water in many areas."

"This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake-infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails," he said in an earlier statement.

Carlton Reserve has more than 80 miles of hiking trails in its 24,565 acres, according to VisitSarasota.com.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that law enforcement officials from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are also assisting in the search for Brian Laundrie.

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