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.