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Drug bust nets 106 pounds of marijuana

An apparent drug run from Texas ended Thursday at a home in Holiday, where authorities seized 106 pounds of marijuana and $54,000 in cash.

It was Pasco County's biggest marijuana bust in the past year, sheriff's officials said.

Rickard Clay Johnson of Gulfview Drive in Holiday, who listed his occupation as owner of Sticky Fingers restaurant in New Port Richey, was charged with trafficking in marijuana and conspiracy to traffic in marijuana. Andrew George Solie of Oshawa Drive in Hudson was arrested at Johnson's home and charged with the same.

Pasco County sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said Solie is accused of driving the car with the marijuana from Texas and delivering it to Johnson's garage. Both were released Friday from the county jail in Land O'Lakes. Johnson posted $22,000 bail, and Solie posted $20,000 bail.

Describing the two men as "mid-level dealers," Powers said federal officials from U.S. Customs and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency on Wednesday alerted the Pasco, Hernando and Citrus sheriff's offices that Solie was driving the shipment from Texas and would soon arrive in the area.

Florida authorities began tracking the car around Homosassa Springs in Citrus County, traveling south on U.S. 19, and monitored it until Hernando County officials stopped Solie on a traffic violation, Powers said.

A drug-sniffing dog barked at the car's trunk, where authorities found the marijuana packed tightly into two blocks about three cubic feet large, Powers said. The street value of the shipment, estimated to be about $1,300 per pound, would come to almost $138,000.

"It was destined for the streets of Pasco and possibly elsewhere, possibly Hernando," Powers said.

Solie admitted to transporting the marijuana and said he was delivering it to Johnson's home, Powers said. Solie cooperated with authorities and dropped off the marijuana at Johnson's home Thursday morning. Pasco County Detective Ricky Landry arrested both men and found the marijuana sitting on a scale in Johnson's garage, according to Landry's report.

Powers said detectives also seized $54,000 they found in Johnson's closet and dresser. In addition, they confiscated four guns, including a shotgun with a pistol grip, and a 1985 Monte Carlo Supersport. Federal officials seized a 1989 Oldsmobile and 1991 Thunderbird, Powers said.

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