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Latest raid snares woman on cocaine charge

In the second of what officials see as an ongoing series of interagency efforts, the raid targets another nuisance house that drew neighbors' complaints.

By JAMAL THALJI
Published January 27, 2005


ZEPHYRHILLS - A countywide drug task force swooped down on its second targeted home in two weeks Wednesday morning, making its sixth drug arrest in the city.

It's something Zephyrhills Police Chief Russell Barnes said he hopes to see more and more of.

The Police Department has been a monetary part of the interagency task force for seven years. But since October, the city has dedicated a detective full-time to the agency.

By upping the ante, Barnes said, the Zephyrhills Police Department is getting more in return.

The past two raids, both aimed at problem homes, is just the start.

More raids will come, the chief said, because the task force makes it easier to conduct them. A federal grant administered by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office pays half the salary of the Zephyrhills detective who works with the task force.

"Every (agency) is participating in it one way or another, either with manpower or monetarily in some way," Barnes said. "They make it easier for us to do it on a more regular basis.

"Surveillance and raid activities are manpower intensive. It's a drain on any individual department, including the Sheriff's (Office), to do on their own."

Wednesday's 8:20 a.m. raid at 5237 First St. was similar to the task force's Jan. 12 raid on a home at 38702 A Ave. that resulted in five arrests. Like that case, neighbors' complaints of an unkempt house with a heavy amount of traffic in and out sparked an investigation that lasted several months.

"There was a high volume of foot and vehicle traffic," Barnes said, "and lots of, shall we say, unsavory characters in the vicinity, centered around this residence."

Lavon Michelle Pearson, 26, was arrested on felony charges of possession of cocaine, possession of paraphernalia and possession of an illegal slot machine. She was held in the county jail in lieu of $5,500 bail.

According to a police report, cocaine and cocaine paraphernalia were in the residence and the inside was "filthy." Pearson was the only one in the residence at the time of the arrest, the report said.

Pearson's two children, a 10-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy, were at school at the time of the raid, Barnes said.

The chief said child protective services released the children into the custody of a relative. He said no other arrests are expected.