A day after deputies raided a Dade City home seizing narcotics, firearms and arresting three people, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco issued a warning.
“We’re sweeping the county right now making a lot of arrests, so if you’re a drug dealer or you’re involved with drugs, I would warn you, get out of Pasco County and stay out.”
At 6 a.m. Wednesday, members of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office vice and narcotics unit and SWAT team raided a home at 15300 Pinellas Ave. Authorities seized about 14 grams of “black tar” heroin, 320 grams of marijuana, 46 grams of cocaine, $516 cash, two short-barreled shotguns, three pistols and a Mac 11 submachine gun.
Rudy Salazar, 25, is charged with armed trafficking in cocaine, armed trafficking of heroin, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute/sale, and felon in possession of a firearm. He is being held at the Land O’ Lakes Jail with bail set at $112,500
Jessica Jernigan, 24, 15209 Pinellas Ave., Dade City, is charged with trafficking heroin. She is jailed with bail set at $20,000.
A 17-year-old also was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana.
Vanessa Salazar, 18, was given a notice to appear on a possession of marijuana charge and was released at the scene.
“I can tell you the boots on the ground, our narcotics (unit), our detectives and the SWAT team, we’re going to keep kicking in doors because there are families out there struggling with loved ones that are now maybe using black tar,” Nocco said. “We’ve seen cocaine out there and other types of drugs. These drugs are also related to violence.”
Lt. Ken Gregory said the black tar heroin is generally produced in Mexico and is not something that has been seen regularly in the county.
“Obviously the connection is closer, coming from Mexico into the United States,” Gregory said. “So for us, it’s something new, so we have to keep an eye on it, and keep close track of where it’s coming from and how it’s getting in here.”
This is one of numerous operations the agency has in the works, Sgt. Bill Davis said. Operation Balderstone, now underway, honors Pasco Sheriff’s Office Lt. Chuck Balderstone, who will retire this month after nearly three decades of service.
“As we speak right now, if you sell drugs, somebody might be knocking in your door wearing a badge,” Davis said.