21 'vagrants' arrested in drug bust at Orange City nursery, sheriff says

Meth, cocaine seized during Operation The Sun Has Set

ORANGE CITY, Fla. – An array of drugs were seized and 21 people were arrested during Operation The Sun Has Set, which targeted an Orange City plant nursery notorious for its drug activity, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Mike Chitwood called the property a drug compound.

"Some of the people were sleeping in pole barns. Some were sleeping on the ground," Chitwood said. "You had vagrants, drug users, thieves. Some buildings didn't have power in them."

Deputies said the investigation into CJ’s Nursery began months ago after numerous community complaints, tips and anonymous phone calls about the criminal activity taking place on the property at 711 Sunset Ave.

Chitwood said their break in the case came after an undercover officer went through the gates to buy meth.

On Tuesday, authorities from the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, East Volusia Narcotics Task Force, VCSO Districts 2 and 6 Criminal Investigations divisions, Deltona Narcotics Enforcement Team and the Orange City Police Department executed search warrants at a two-story residence and a second home on the property, according to a news release.

Deputies said they seized a .35-caliber rifle, eight grams of methamphetamine, 2.3 grams of heroin, two grams of cannabis, eight grams of hash, 9.5 amphetamine tablets; eight alprazolam tablets; one oxycodone tablet; two tramadol tablets; three buprenorphine tablets; one carisprodol tablet; one morphine tablet; seven hydrocodone tablets; 1.7 grams of cocaine and 1.25 grams of crack-cocaine located throughout the property.

There were 27 people on the property, 21 of whom were arrested, including property owner Charles Mascaro, officials said.

"We saw this day and night. They were going truckloads of furniture, people back and forth," said Maureen Hesketh, who lives on the street.

Hesketh said in the two years she's lived on Sunset Avenue, she called 911 a couple dozen times for all sorts of reasons.

"I complained about the people walking down the street, the condition they were in walking down the street, the noise, the traffic," Hesketh said.

"We had cops come over because they were leaving the needles that were used on the floor," another neighbor said.

The area got so bad that some neighbors told News 6 they're moving out.

Detectives said they believe many of the people at the property are responsible for many of the property crimes that take place in West Volusia County. They said the arrests should have a positive impact on the community.

"I'm very proud of the great work our detectives and all the units did in arresting these criminals," Chitwood said. "Orange City residents can breathe easier knowing these vagrants are behind bars."

Officials from Volusia County Code Enforcement and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were also present during the raid and found multiple environmental law violations, the report said.

Below is a list of suspects and the charges they face:

Charles Mascaro, 62
Possession of cocaine, possession of meth with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia

Robert Blane Pursley, 32
Possession of Heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia

Steven Dobos, 50
Warrant arrest, driving while license suspended

Jason Allen Belcher, 32
Violation of probation - grand theft/possession of drug paraphernalia

Clayton Leach, 41
Possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia

Alicia Thomas, 40
Possession of drug paraphernalia

Nicole Doyle, 45
Vioaltion of probation warrant - Possession of heroin, sale of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia

MaryBeth Abello, 37
Possession of drug paraphernalia

Lauren Boals, 39
Possession of meth, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia

John Hall III, 44
Sale of meth warrant

Gene Cutlip, 37
Littering over 500 lbs

Cheryl Small, 49
Possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia

Marlon Stafford, 44
Writ of bodily possession

Sabrina Trefren, 40
Possession of drug paraphernalia

Stephanie Mack, 35
Possession of drug paraphernalia

Crystal Shaffer, 36
Possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia

Tracie Powers, 43
Possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia

Sherry Readore, 46
Possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia

Matthew Kunzig, 49
Possession of cocaine, possession of paraphernalia

Craig Ralls, 49
Violation of probation and possession of heroin, methamphetamine and paraphernalia

Alesia Doyle, 29
Possession of a firearm by convicted felon, possession of heroin; possession of meth; possession of schedule 4 tramadol; possession of schedule 2 amphetamine; possession of schedule 2 oxycodone; possession of schedule 2 morphine; possession of schedule 2 hydrocodone; possession of schedule 4 carisprodol, possession of schedule 5 buprenorphine