ST. PETERSBURG — A yearlong drug investigation led to the seizure of more than $1.5 million in cash and Monday's arrest of a 28-year-old man on federal drug charges, authorities said.
A federal arrest warrant showed how cocaine shipped from Mexico was distributed through the city's neighborhoods by top members of "8-Hype" a local gang based in Harbordale.
The man named in the warrant, Justin Levine Richardson, was arrested on a charge of conspiring to distribute cocaine. Detectives said they at one time found $1,008,720 inside his mom's car.
Richardson has been well known to narcotics detectives for years. In 2004, the St. Petersburg man was arrested in Texas for shipping drugs through the mail. He was sentenced to five years in a federal prison and was still on probation for that crime when he was arrested Monday.
During a joint St. Petersburg-Drug Enforcement Administration operation, authorities said they tracked down witnesses who said Richardson supplied them with cocaine; tracked him as he allegedly transported a large black duffel bag containing $277,585 to a drug "stash house"; and discovered a courier who crossed the U.S.-Mexican border 176 times since 2008.
Richardson of 500 Trinity Lane, was arrested by the U.S. marshals. He is being held without bond in the Pinellas County Jail.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.