Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough deputies shut down drive-through drug operation near University Mall, expect more arrests

Hillsborough deputies stand in the courtyard of the Pines I Apartments, 11720 N 14th St., near University Mall in Tampa on Wednesday where a drug “drive-through” was discovered.

TYLER TJOMSLAND | Times

Hillsborough deputies stand in the courtyard of the Pines I Apartments, 11720 N 14th St., near University Mall in Tampa on Wednesday where a drug “drive-through” was discovered.

TAMPA — One by one, motorists arrived, rolling down windows and giving up cash, as they would at a fast-food restaurant.

This drive-through opened at 11 a.m. some days, but lunch was never on the menu.

Instead, customers could order cocaine, oxycodone, ecstasy and marijuana. Guns, too.

At a news conference Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office announced that it had broken up a drug trafficking ring that caught even investigators by surprise.

About 11 months ago, deputies began building cases against two men reputed to be dealing drugs in a neighborhood near University Mall.

Investigators thought Zavien Brand, 28, and Joseph Nurse, 35, might lead them to a few more people, maybe six or eight, said sheriff's Maj. J.R. Burton.

But the small undercover probe soon turned into a larger investigation — dubbed Operation Pandora's Box — as deputies realized the area's loose-knit group of dealers included dozens of people.

On Wednesday, sheriff's officials announced they had 54 warrants and, as of 4 p.m., 32 arrests, most on drug and gun possession charges.

"We had no idea this was going on," Burton said.

They focused on several addresses in the neighborhood near Nebraska and Fletcher avenues. The drive-through was at the Pines I Apartments at 11720 N 14th St., deputies said.

Deputies took 29 guns off the street, including seven assault rifles and two weapons believed to be linked to shootings in the area.

Also seized: about 1.3 pounds of crack cocaine, 0.64 ounces of powder cocaine, 0.25 ounces of oxycodone and some ecstasy — valued at about $75,000 total, Burton said.

Burton hopes the operation sends a message to an area that has long struggled with crime, and he wants residents to know that deputies aren't done.

Brand was charged with dealing crack cocaine and being a felon in possession of a gun. Nurse was charged with dealing crack cocaine, marijuana and stolen property.

Deputies planned to continue executing search warrants until they arrest all 54 suspects.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Hillsborough deputies shut down drive-through drug operation near University Mall, expect more arrests 09/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 12:02am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]