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20 'drug dealers, gang members' arrested in Largo's Baskins area

LARGO — The arrest toll has risen to 20 people in an operation that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is calling a roundup of "street-level drug dealers and gang members" in the Baskins area. Authorities are searching for 21 additional suspects.

The roundup was conducted from about 2:45 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Three of the arrests were made prior to the roundup.

The suspects were arrested on a variety of drug-related charges, including the possession and sales of crack cocaine, marijuana and Roxicodone and purchase of controlled substances.

The arrests are a culmination of several months of investigation in the Baskins area, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said.

According to authorities, eight of those arrested are members of the so-called Young Souljas gang, which first appeared in Baskins in October 2008.

Here's a breakdown of the arrests:

Facing charges of sale and possession of crack cocaine: Dale Baldwin, 18; Tyronda C. Bascomb, 28; Brandon Bennett, 18; Savone Brown, 14; Lenwood Hall, 18; Gary Ladarios, 20; Gerald Mansfield, 19; and Cordarious Smith, 21. All are from Largo.

Facing sale of crack cocaine charges: Dietra Barber, 27, and Tajuana Dixon, 32, both of St. Petersburg; and Largo residents Donald L. Harris, 51; Johnny Marshall, 23; Alonzo L. McCray, 33; Dedrick Redding, 17; Justin Wade, 20; and Joseph Wilkins, 56.

Facing the charge of purchasing crack cocaine: Demarius L. Hill, 24, of Largo.

Facing charges of the sale and possession of crack cocaine and roxicodone: Antonio G. Towns, 18, of Largo.

Facing charges of sale and possession of marijuana: Deontay Dampier, 19, and Naji J. Dennard, 36, both of Largo.

Deputies says Bennett, Brown, Dampier, Hall, Ladarios, Marshall, Redding and Towns are members of the "Young Souljas" gang. Ladarios is the gang's leader, authorities said.

Two additional unrelated arrests were made in Baskins during the roundup.

One suspect, 31-year-old transient Joe Spadafino, was charged with the possession and sale of oxycodone to an undercover detective. The second suspect, 36-year-old Felix Vega Jr. of Largo, was arrested on a Hillsborough County warrant for aggravated battery.

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at kniebuhr@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4156.

20 'drug dealers, gang members' arrested in Largo's Baskins area 05/08/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 8, 2009 8:33pm]
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