On Sept. 21, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said, undercover deputies made their first crack cocaine buy from Timothy Aaron Christian.
That night they bought about 1.4 ounces. Then they kept coming back for more.
The deals led them Thursday afternoon to make what is believed to be the largest crack cocaine bust in county history. It happened at what deputies said had become the usual meeting place for them and Christian: the Circle K at Little Road and Fox Hollow Drive.
He and Terry Lewis Zukowski sold undercover officers about 21 ounces at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, deputies said. Then deputies and federal agents seized about 19 more ounces.
Divided into small rocks, those drugs could sell for more than $100,000 on the street, Lt. Robert Sullivan said. Crack rocks are often sold in doses as small as 0.2 of a gram for $20. If this crack was sold like that, it would have resulted in nearly 6,000 sales.
"It's going to be fairly difficult to buy a piece of crack cocaine for the next week in west Pasco," Sullivan said Friday.
Sheriff's officials put the drugs on display for the media on Friday afternoon.
They bought five cookies _ 4-inch diameter circles of the white substance. After the buy and the arrests, they seized 13 more cookies that were stashed in an empty Chek orange soda package. They would not say where that crack was found, other than it was in south Pasco and that Tarpon Springs police helped them find it.
Christian, 20, of 7327 Heather Drive faces three counts of trafficking crack cocaine as well as charges of sale of MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy), possession of MDMA and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, deputies said.
Zukowski, 27, of Tampa faces a charge of trafficking crack cocaine, deputies said.
Christian, who has a lengthy juvenile record and other felony arrests without convictions, was being held Friday at county jail in Land O'Lakes in lieu of $100,000 bail. Zukowski _ who has been arrested at least 15 times, has multiple drug convictions and a theft conviction _ was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Sullivan classified them as "high-level" dealers who were making their own crack from powder cocaine.
On Sept. 21, undercover deputies bought about 1.4 ounces of crack from Christian for $1,425, arrest reports state. Six days later, they said, they bought about 3.7 ounces for $3,250. On Oct. 18, deputies said, they bought 40 doses of MDMA for $540.
On Thursday, they bought about 21.3 ounces of crack from Christian and Zukowski for $6,300, reports state. Deputies then arrested the pair.
Sullivan said he did not know how the vice unit learned of Christian and Zukowski. More than two other people are involved in the drug ring and more arrests are coming, he said. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials continue to help in the investigation.
The investigation also led deputies to make an undercover bust Thursday night on a man and a woman they said sold them powdered cocaine.
Michael Gomes Reverdes, 18, of 7641 Fox Hollow Drive faces charges of trafficking cocaine and two counts of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, deputies said. Michelle McGowan Perdomo, 25, of 7944 Sun Runner Drive in New Port Richey faces charges of trafficking cocaine, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and failure to appear on a previous possession of marijuana charge, deputies said.
Their bail was set at $75,000 and $30,713, respectively.
Crack is a solid, potent form of cocaine made when the powder is combined with baking soda and boiled until the water evaporates.
It first hit Pasco in Dade City in the mid 1980s, Sullivan said. In about 1993 deputies began regularly finding it in west Pasco.
"It's pretty much all over (the county) now," he said. "Ten or 15 years ago it would have been unheard of to see a large amount of crack over here."
_ Times staff writer Ryan Davis is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavissptimes.com.