Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Feds get final conviction in massive Pasco cocaine conspiracy

TAMPA — The last of seven men accused of operating a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring in Pasco County was convicted Tuesday on drug and gun charges in U.S. District Court.

Rogelio Zarco Perez, 37, of 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road in Dade City was found guilty by Judge Richard A. Lazzara following a bench trial.

Perez was convicted of conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, possessing 5 kilograms or more of cocaine with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.

Far more than 5 kilograms of cocaine was involved, though. The trial revealed that in 2007 authorities began to suspect Perez's 5-acre spread in Dade City stored drugs and money linked to distribution points that included a horse farm in Ocala and other locations.

Pasco sheriff's deputies and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents tracked vehicles going between Dade City and 7755 Merchantville Circle in Zephyrhills, and in January 2008, a search of the Zephyrhills location turned up a .45 caliber pistol and drug ledgers listing sales of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine.

Last August, agents tracked a truck as it left Perez's home, and Highway Patrol troopers found more than $2.2 million in a fuel tank. Driver Lazaro Merino, 44, of Miami was arrested.

DEA agents searched Perez's house the next day and found 52 kilograms of cocaine — valued at about $1.5 million — buried in a barn along with $119,940. Inside the house, they found $156,000, more records of drug sales and a pistol. They arrested Perez and a Jorge Castillo Ramos, 38.

DEA agents also went to a house in Ocala based on surveillance that showed traffic between it and Dade City. While there, Valentin Lozano Alvarez, Jesus Lozano Alvarez and Jose Hector Cruz arrived with $171,000 and 5 kilograms of cocaine in their truck, agents said.

In another Ocala house, agents found $3,000 and a money-wrapping machine.

The next day, they searched an Ocala horse farm and found $60,965, plus 15 assault rifles and ammunition.

Five of the men arrested — Merino, Ramos, Cruz, Valentin Lozano Alvarez and Jesus Lozano Alvarez — pleaded guilty and were convicted of conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Audel Arrizon Lopez, 37, of Norcross, Ga., pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession charges. Prosecutors say he drove specially modified cars to Perez's home with "trap'' compartments for hiding cocaine.

All await sentencing.

Feds get final conviction in massive Pasco cocaine conspiracy 01/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 10:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]