NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it arrested 54 people on drug charges over a 12-hour period in a countywide sweep dubbed “Operation Balderstone.”
The operation began at 5 a.m. Thursday as officers, spread from one end of Pasco to the other, began apprehending men and women suspected of selling narcotics, the sheriff’s office reported.
“Citizens are safer right now and I can tell you we sent a clear message out there,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a Friday morning press conference.
Although the arrests happened Thursday, in some cases they relate to investigations that date back several months, such as a March 13 incident when an undercover officer bought oxycodone from one of the suspects or a Nov. 15 deal in which an undercover officer bought marijuana, according to arrest records.
Those arrested face a variety of charges, including sale and possession of such drugs as cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, synthetic marijuana and methamphetamine.
The sheriff’s office was assisted in Operation Balderstone by the New Port Richey Police Department, the Dade City Police Department and the Zephyrhills Police Department.
The operation was named for sheriff’s Lt. Charles Balderstone, the vice/narcotics commander, who is retiring next week after more than 28 years of service. Nocco praised the lieutenant, saying the sheriff’s office is a much better agency and Pasco a much better county because of him.
“The impact and the legacy he has made is going to last for a very, very long time,” the sheriff said.