Judge Convicts Pasco County Man in Record Breaking
JAN 21 -- TAMPA - Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division, and U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton announce that the Honorable Richard A. Lazzara found Rogelio Zarco Perez (age 37, of Dade City) guilty of drug and gun charges arising from the seizure of fifty-two kilograms of cocaine and $2.2 million in cash from 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road, Dade City, on August 26th, 2009. This was the largest drug seizure in the history of Pasco County. On December 22, 2009, the defendant's three co-defendants pleaded guilty to drug charges for their roles in the conspiracy. See attached chart. The defendants were indicted on September 3, 2009.
According to evidence presented at trial and court documents, this case is part of an investigation that began in 2007. The investigation revealed that the defendants participated in a large-scale cocaine importation, storage, and distribution scheme. They used 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road, a five acre property in eastern Pasco County, as a storage location for cocaine and cash. The group used various residential properties in Ocala, including 323 Oak Track and 308 Oak Track Radial, as distribution points for cocaine. Assault rifles, ammunition, and cash were stored at a horse farm located at 9115 NW 125th Avenue, Ocala.
At the end of 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) tracked vehicles as they traveled between 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road, Dade City, Florida and 7755 Merchantville, Zephyrhills, Florida. On January 16, 2008, DEA executed a search warrant at 7755 Merchantville and found a loaded .45 caliber handgun and drug ledgers documenting sales of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine.
Activity at 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road picked back up in 2009. On August 3rd, August 6th, August 19th, and August 25th, 2009, Audel Arrizon Lopez was seen at 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road driving automobiles outfitted with hidden compartments, so-called "trap cars," used to secretly transport cocaine. Lopez used these trap cars to transport kilogram-quantities of cocaine from 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road to other places in and around Pasco County.
On August 25th, 2009, agents and officers followed a truck after it departed 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road. A subsequent stop and search of the truck by Florida Highway Patrol yielded $2,240,456, found in a fuel tank. The truck was driven by Lazaro Merino.
Following the money seizure, DEA executed a federal search warrant at 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road, on the morning of August 26th. Rogelio Zarco Perez and Jorge Castillo Ramos were on the property at the time of the search.
Buried in a barn on the property, officers found 52 kilograms of cocaine, with a conservative wholesale value of $1.5 million, and $119,940 (bundled United States currency). Inside a house on the property, they found $156,165, numerous drug ledgers documenting multi-kilogram quantity transactions involving cocaine, and a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson firearm. Most of the cash in the house and the barn was bundled similarly to the cash found in the truck. The total amount of money seized, including from both the truck and 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road, was $2,516,561.
Later on August 26, 2009, DEA went to 323 Oak Track, Ocala, Florida, based on surveillance conducted during the investigation that linked this property to 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road. Shortly after DEA arrived, three defendants in a related case, Valentin Lozano Alvarez, Jesus Lozano Alvarez, and Jose Hector Cruz, pulled onto the property. In the bed of their truck, officers found $171,000 and five kilograms of cocaine. These defendants pled guilty for their part in the conspiracy in 2009. See attached chart.
After searching the truck, officers went to 308 Oak Track Radial, a nearby property also linked to 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road through surveillance conducted during the investigation. In the residence, officers found a cash wrapper, with plastic wrappings and rubber bands in a clothes hamper, and additional cash in a duffle bag. The total amount of cash seized from the pickup truck and 308 Oak Track Run was $174,848.
Finally, on August 27, 2009, officers searched the horse farm at 9115 NW 125 th Avenue, Ocala, Florida, another property linked to 12019 Duck Lake Canal Road through surveillance conducted during the investigation. There they seized $60,965, fifteen assault rifles (seven AK47/SKS-style, even AR15, and one mini 14) and ammunition.
This case was investigated under OCDETF's Operation DC Lockdown, which targets cocaine transportation and distribution operations in eastern Pasco County. DC Lockdown is comprised of agents and detectives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the Marion County Sheriff's Office, and the Florida Highway Patrol.
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