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. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want

    Local

    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]