Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Public safety

Spring Hill couple arrested on drug charges after months-long investigation

SPRING HILL — A Spring Hill couple was arrested Wednesday on several drug charges after a months-long investigation by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

After allegedly selling cocaine to undercover detectives multiple times, Devon Bristol, 28, was booked on charges of trafficking cocaine, possession of a structure to traffic cocaine, felony possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, seven counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, seven counts of unlawful use of a two-way communication device and seven counts of sale and possession of cocaine, some of which were within 1,000 feet of a church or school.

His live-in girlfriend, Jasmine Delaine, 26, faces charges of felony possession of marijuana, possession of a structure to traffic in cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to jail records.

At a news conference Thursday, Sheriff Al Nienhuis called the bust at Bristol's rented house at 1431 Larkin Road "prolific" for the area, noting the man's "very large customer base" in Spring Hill.

Nienhuis said Bristol, who has been arrested by the Sheriff' Office about 20 times since 2005, usually did his dealing out in the open, in the parking lots of local businesses.

Sgt. Scott Lamia, commander of the agency's narcotics unit, who supervised the investigation, said the haul of drugs found inside the house proved Bristol's operation was fairly large.

"I can tell you he was busy in the Hernando County area," Lamia said.

Detectives arrived at the house just after 7 a.m. Wednesday to find contraband "out in the open" throughout the house, the Sheriff's Office said. Lamia said Bristol immediately tried to run out the back door, but was quickly caught by deputies.

The agency found 24 pounds of marijuana, a kilo of cocaine, nearly 300 grams of crack cocaine, four ecstasy pills, a .380 handgun and eight 16-ounce bottles of suspected codeine. Materials commonly related to the sale of drugs, such as plastic baggies, scales and "things used to cook crack cocaine," were also found, the sheriff said.

In addition, detectives recovered more than $35,000 in cash and a 2015 Mercedes Benz S-Class S550 they say Bristol recently bought for $88,000, putting down a "sizable" amount of cash, investigators said.

"We hit him when he was sitting heavy," Lamia said, "and we're happy we did that."

Nienhuis said that "in the drug world in general," Bristol falls about "mid-level." He said the man, who in the past has served time for sale and possession of cocaine, fleeing and eluding law enforcement and introducing contraband into a correctional facility, was most likely selling to lower-level dealers.

The exact details of the investigation leading up to the bust were not released by the Sheriff's Office in an effort to protect the confidentiality of future investigations, but Nienhuis confirmed it began in May with a tip that Bristol was selling cocaine.

He said detectives worked to develop a relationship with Bristol and eventually bought powder cocaine from him on "several occasions."

On some of the undercover deals, Nienhuis said, a 3-year-old accompanied Bristol. The child was found in the house Wednesday and has since been placed with the Florida Department of Children and Families, which will soon begin its own investigation.

Nienhuis ended the news conference with a message to drug dealers: "We are probably already on to you, and you will probably be getting a visit in the early morning hours sometime soon," he said. "We will eventually get around to you, and we are going to get you off the streets."

Both Bristol and Delaine remained in jail Thursday, his bail set at $253,000 and hers at $116,000, according to jail records. The sheriff said charges could be coming against Bristol's customers.

"It is a victory, but it is a short-lived victory," the sheriff said. "We can't bask in it too much because we have too much to do."

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

   
Comments
Busted, baby: Rapper Plies arrested at Tampa International Airport

Busted, baby: Rapper Plies arrested at Tampa International Airport

TAMPA — The rapper Plies, aka Algernod Lanier Washington, was arrested at Tampa International Airport on Wednesday after authorities say a gun was found in his carry-on bag.The 42-year-old Wesley Chapel resident faces a charge of carrying a concealed...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office launches Facebook, Twitter accounts in Spanish

Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office launches Facebook, Twitter accounts in Spanish

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office now has Facebook and Twitter accounts in Spanish.The agency celebrated the official launch of the accounts on Wednesday. Sheriff Chad Chronister said the goal is to connect with an increasing number of...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Ninety animals seized Tuesday in Hernando County cruelty case

Ninety animals seized Tuesday in Hernando County cruelty case

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando sheriff’s deputies seized 90 animals on Tuesday and arrested a woman on animal cruelty and animal mistreatment charges after people called with concerns about an ill horse.Crystal Robin Crawford, 46, was arrested but not taken ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Cops question viral video about human trafficking at Pinellas Publix

Cops question viral video about human trafficking at Pinellas Publix

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is setting the record straight about a viral Facebook video posted by a Dunedin woman who claimed she almost fell victim to human trafficking. Lynne Knowles took to Facebook to share what happened to her at the Pu...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Pasco man taken down by K9 after attempting to kidnap infant girl, putting schools on lockdown

Pasco man taken down by K9 after attempting to kidnap infant girl, putting schools on lockdown

NEW PORT RICHEY — A few hours before he was lying on his back in the woods, shirtless with a dog’s jaws clamped around his arm, Kevin Wilson climbed into a second-story window and tried to kidnap a 6-month-old baby girl, according to the ...
Published: 09/19/18
Fate of FEMA leader Brock Long in doubt as Florence cleanup continues

Fate of FEMA leader Brock Long in doubt as Florence cleanup continues

WASHINGTON — While Hurricane Florence barreled through the Carolinas, a different type of storm was brewing within the federal disaster relief agency tasked with responding to the fallout.The fate of Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergen...
Published: 09/19/18
Largo names new fire chief

Largo names new fire chief

LARGO — After two nationwide searches that produced 119 applicants, City Manager Henry Schubert didn’t have to look far to find his new fire chief.Schubert announced recently that Chad Pittman, deputy chief of Palm Harbor Fire Rescue, w...
Published: 09/19/18
Police release name of man shot Tuesday at Tampa apartment complex

Police release name of man shot Tuesday at Tampa apartment complex

TAMPA — An 18-year-old man was critically injured Tuesday when he was shot at an apartment complex in northeast Tampa.Officers responded about 2:30 a.m. to a call about an unknown emergency at the Silver Oaks Apartments, 4200 Kenneth Court, Ta...
Published: 09/18/18
Fatal punch on Gandy median leads to manslaughter charge in Tampa muralist’s death

Fatal punch on Gandy median leads to manslaughter charge in Tampa muralist’s death

TAMPA — Police are bringing manslaughter charges against a Tampa man accused of throwing a fatal punch last April at well-known local muralist Matt Callahan.The suspect, 34-year-old Keith Mauga of Tampa, already is serving five years for aggravated b...
Published: 09/18/18
Police: Tarpon Springs man killed crossing road in wheelchair

Police: Tarpon Springs man killed crossing road in wheelchair

TARPON SPRINGS — A 58-year-old man was killed Monday after a car struck him as he was crossing the road in a wheelchair.According to Tarpon Springs police, Jon Pendleton, operating a manual wheelchair, started to cross U.S. 19 near Martin Luther King...
Published: 09/18/18