NEW PORT RICHEY — Agents executing a search warrant Friday morning on a suspected drug house found a stockpile of weapons, most of them assault rifles and machine guns whose rounds could easily penetrate officer's vests and cruisers. Lt. Chuck Balderstone of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office picked up one firearm with a long silencer at a press conference announcing the bust.
"That's something you would see in a spy movie," he said.
He said investigators didn't expect such a "cache" of weapons when they burst into 7347 Roebellini Ave. in Trinity at 6 a.m. Friday. There were so many guns — 29, to be exact — that somebody could have had a "small coup and taken over New Port Richey," Balderstone said.
It didn't appear anyone was living in the house.
Four buildings were raided Friday in what appears to be a drug and weapon business run by Gyasi Heard, a 32-year-old Tarpon Springs tattoo parlor owner who owns the Trinity house, and Christopher Vasquez, a 33-year-old Bloods gang member and registered sex offender, authorities said. The Pasco Sheriff's Office, New Port Richey police, Pinellas Sheriff's Office, Tarpon Spring police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration worked on the case.
Vasquez and his wife, Crystal Vasquez, 25, were arrested when their home was raided Friday morning at 6028 Nebraska Ave. in New Port Richey. Christopher Vasquez is charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine. His wife is charged with armed trafficking of cocaine. Heard and Jessica Colon, 25, were arrested at 1544 Starlight Cove in Tarpon Springs. Heard was charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Colon was charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
Heard's tattoo shop, Legacy Tattoo at 36243 U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor, was also raided. Twelve guns were seized there, authorities said. Five weapons were found at the Tarpon Springs home. Three at the Vasquez residence, along with seven ounces of crack cocaine and 33 grams of marijuana. Plus, of course, the 29 weapons at the Trinity safe house.
These were not for hunting, said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. He said it appears the guns were for sale and for protection. Undercover vice agents bought cocaine and a gun from Heard before the bust, Nocco said.
In the course of 11 transactions since November, undercover officers bought more than 617 grams of cocaine (crack and powder) and one .380-caliber handgun, the Sheriff's Office said.
The guns seized Friday were "to kill people and to keep their drug operation going," Nocco said.
All four suspects are being held in custody.
"These people were pretty bad members of our society," Nocco said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.