Sunday, June 24, 2018
Public safety

4 in Pasco accused of buying stolen gold from undercover cops

HOLIDAY — The woman didn't have an ID or a believable story. What she had was 23 grams of gold, worth between $400 and $500.

Kreis Kyger, 39, a clerk at Sunray Pawn on U.S. 19 in Holiday, refused the deal. He wouldn't buy the gold inside the store. Especially not after the woman admitted she had stolen it.

Still, it was a lot of gold. So authorities say he compromised. He suggested that the woman sell the gold to the pawn shop's owner, Darrin Mercado, 44, in the parking lot, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report. The seller and Mercado went outside and reached an agreement: $100 for the 23 grams.

Unfortunately for Kyger and Mercado, the seller was an undercover detective.

The case was one of three undercover operations Thursday that resulted in arrests for dealing in stolen property, authorities said. The other two cases were in Port Richey at Unique Jeweler and Cash 4 Gold, both on U.S. 19.

Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said it is part of law enforcement's duty to monitor local businesses, including those that deal in secondhand goods.

"If we have information that stolen goods are moving through some of these businesses, we're going to investigate it," Doll said.

The Florida statute that outlines dealing in stolen property, a second-degree felony, states that individuals who purchase goods they know have been stolen have violated the statute.

"The detectives mentioned that it was stolen," Doll said. "They were up-front and told them it was stolen goods. They shouldn't have taken it in the first place."

Gulzar Jumma, 45, the owner of Unique Jeweler, was arrested and charged with dealing in stolen property after authorities say she purchased two gold pendants, a gold bracelet and a ring for $400 from an undercover detective. She was released Thursday night after posting $10,000 bail.

She did not return phone calls for comment.

Youssef Ouazzani, 25, a manager at Cash 4 Gold, was arrested on two counts of the same charge after purchasing gold twice from an undercover detective, the first time for $300 and the second time for $80, according to sheriff's reports. He was released after posting bail totaling $20,000.

Ouazzani did not return several calls Friday for comment.

During Mercado's arrest, deputies said they also found hydrocodone in his possession, and he was charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription in addition to dealing in stolen property and grand theft. He was released after posting $17,000 bail.

Mercado did not return calls for comment.

Kyger remained Friday at the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. He was charged with dealing in stolen property.

Mary Kenney can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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