Citrus Sheriff Makes Largest Drug Bust in Its History, Valued at Nearly $1 Million

June 20, 2019 Updated: June 20, 2019

Narcotics investigators in California have seized drugs with a street value of almost $1 million from a Beverly Hills home in what is reportedly the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office biggest ever drug bust.

The Citrus Times Online reported that on June 14, members of the Sheriff’s Office’s Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) and staff at the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Probation Office carried out the largest ever drug seizure in CCSO history, valued at around $970,000.

The Times reported that the bust also resulted in the CCSO’s largest ever cannabis wax and MDMA seizures.

Sheriff Mike Prendergast was cited by WFLA as calling the drugs “a threat to the community that was one of the most significant we’ve seen in the Tampa Bay region for a very long time.”

Routine Probation Check Leads to Historic Bust

Deputies carrying out a routine probation check Friday went to the Beverly Hills home of 33-year-old Daniel Battisti and confronted him on suspicion of illegal activity, Fox13 reported. A probation officer found illegal drugs.

Deputies then carried out a search based on an obtained warrant and found 167 grams of methamphetamine, 100.2 grams of cocaine, 691 tablets of prescription drug cyclobenzaprine, 89 tablets of prescription drug tizanidine, 60 pills of MDMA, 1,960 grams of leaf cannabis, and 30.1 pounds of processed cannabis wax.

Battisti was arrested on several drug-related charges and, according to deputies cited by Fox13, could face 140 years behind bars.

“I would place him at the highest level of drug dealers that we’ve encountered during my tenure as the Citrus County Sheriff,” Prendergast told WFLA.

Fox13 reported that on the same day, probation officers and detectives executed a search warrant at a residence in Crystal River, leading to the arrests of 41-year-old Jeffery Conner and 40-year-old Lisa Bonugli on numerous charges.

Conner faces five counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), and possession of drug paraphernalia, the Times reported.

Bonugli was arrested for possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Daniel Battisti, Lisa Bonugli, and Jeffery Conner. (Citrus County Sheriff’s Office)

“These investigations are shining examples of what can be accomplished when different law enforcement partners work together to keep our citizens safe,” Sheriff Prendergast told the Times. “This single opportunity to work in cooperation with the Florida Department of Corrections resulted in nearly a million dollars’ worth of drugs and guns taken off the streets of Citrus County.”

The Citrus County Chronicle reported Battisti made a court appearance Monday, where a judge set his bond at $186,000.

The Chronicle posted the story on its Facebook page, where it garnered numerous reactions.

“We LOVE Citrus County Sheriff’s Office!” wrote one commenter, adding: “You all work so hard! To allow us to sleep at night! Bless EVERYONE that helped in this raid! Stay safe!”

Another commenter wrote: “141 years does crime pay? Nope.”

Massive Meth Stash Found Stuffed in Suitcases in Washington Forest

In related news, a massive stash of meth with an estimated street value of $1 million was found stuffed in two suitcases in a Washington forest.

A sergeant with the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and his K-9 partner found the two suitcases containing 186 pounds of methamphetamine in the Okanogan National Forest on Monday, June 17, according to Gazette-Tribune.

The sheriff’s office was assisting the Department of Homeland Security with an air smuggling investigation near Mazama, Wash., King5 News reported, when the deputy made the unusual find.

King5 posted the story on its Facebook page, where it received numerous reactions.

“Good Lord, thankful it’s in the right hands now,” wrote one commenter. “Bless you and the work you do. Cannot thank you enough. Glad it’s off the streets.”

“Outstanding work,” commented another. “Thank you to all involved and working together with local and federal agencies, the way they should be allowed to work together.”

The sheriff said the suitcases full of meth were located in a heavily brushy area in the National Forest, according to King5 news.

“Cocaine has been the main narcotic purchased by detectives over the last few years but methamphetamine is a close second,” according to the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office’s website. “The task force also works border cases involving smuggling, usually marijuana cases.”

Man Brings Marijuana-Filled Suitcase on Plane

In other related news, a California man admitted to transporting 30 pounds of marijuana hidden in a suitcase on board a plane.

Gerardo Delgadillo Jr., 22, pleaded guilty in federal court in Huntington, West Virginia, on Monday, June 17, to possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Prosecutors cited by The Associated Press said Delgadillo flew in October to Tri-State Airport in Kenova, West Virginia, with the marijuana in tow. Delgadillo said in court that he planned to sell the drug.

He faces up to five years in prison.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM
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