Venice Police are calling Friday’s designer drug busts potentially one of the largest in the agency’s history.

It’s not just the cash confiscated — over $61,000 — or the quantity of drugs, as much as the diversity of designer drugs involved.

It’s not the usual marijuana or meth bust, said Capt. Eric Hill of the Venice Police Department.

Venice Police Chief Tom Mattmuller called the arrests “very disturbing.”

“Carrying around that kind of cash means it’s obviously profitable. These are club drugs that you’d see younger people use at a rave. That’s not something we have in Venice, so it’s disturbing.”

Raves are organized dance parties one might find in urban nightclubs, festivals or warehouses, but they can also be gatherings on private property. They typically feature DJs that play a steady stream of electronic dance music.

Anonymous tipAccording to the Venice Police Department, the investigation was borne from an anonymous tip and resulted in the shuttering of a significant narcotics operation in the City of Venice.

Capt. Hill called it potentially one of the largest drug busts by VPD.

On May 16, investigators served a search warrant on an apartment in the 1000 block of Capri Isles Blvd. The search yielded a large variety and quantity of narcotics, drug paraphernalia, and cash, that resulted in the arrest of Zakary “Josh” Harman, 24, a self-employed painter, and Jacquelynn “Jackie” Cavender, 24, a dancer.

In addition to the narcotics and cash, there was a large amount of drug paraphernalia packaged for sale.

Harmon and Cavender were charged with numerous narcotics trafficking and possession with intent to sell violations.

DangerousAnd the investigation continues.

“We do have tons of evidence that will determine what route to go,” said VPD’s Sgt. Mathew Sauchinitz, who leads the SITE Team, short for Special Investigations and Traffic Enforcement, created two years ago when the Sheriff’s Office dissolved its South County Narcotics Task Force.

It’s the largest amount of designer drugs Sauchinitz has seen in his 11 years on the force, including five years working undercover.

“I would call this a rarity. Most of the drugs are from the rave culture. We came across several different forms of MDMA, a large sum of LSD, and Ketamine. Those three are very dangerous and account for a lot of overdoses,” Sauchinitz said.

Promethazine Codeine Syrup, a narcotic cold medicine also found during the drug bust, is a very rare drug around here, he said. It’s typically mixed with alcohol as a drink called Dark Purple or Lean. There were 15 pounds of drug edibles, two pounds of marijuana and other drugs confiscated from boxes or bags in nearly every room in the couple’s apartment.

Investigation ongoing“I would call it a major drug distribution business. We’ll do a history investigation,” Sauchinitz said.

He noted one of the suspects did some traveling to out-of-state rave scenes. The arrest report suggests large quantities of drugs were mailed back to themselves while traveling out west.

While conducting surveillance, Sauchinitz observed a UPS driver deliver one of the suspected drug packages to their apartment on Capris Isles Boulevard. On his way to the door, the driver paused and sniffed the package, then delivered it, according to the report.

Other individuals were seen coming in and out of the apartment after certain drugs were believed to be delivered.

At least one other arrest was made related to the cache of designer drugs found in the home, records show.


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