NEW PORT RICHEY — A year-long investigation has led to the arrest of a Wesley Chapel man on charges that he ran a large narcotics operation from his home and from his carpet business in Zephyrhills, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday.
Mark Eisenberg, 55, of 29341 Laughridge Place, usually was armed during the transactions, and sometimes accepted food stamp cards, gift cards and stolen goods as payment, Sheriff Chris Nocco said in a morning news conference.
Eisenberg, who operated a Carpet Outlet store on U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills, often drove people doctor-shopping in Tampa where they would get prescriptions for pills that Eisenberg would buy from them, the sheriff said.
When sheriff’s officials arrested Eisenberg at his home Friday, in addition to various narcotics, they confiscated nearly 50 guns, 13 EBT cards, several gift cards, three Rolex watches, jewelry and other items.
They also dug up cash and pills buried in his back yard, the sheriff said. Much of what was found was on display at the press conference.
“We made a large dent in crime in the Zephyrhills area, working with the Zephyrhills police,” Nocco said.
Eisenberg faces several charges of armed trafficking in narcotics or possession with intent to sell. He is being held at the Land O’ Lakes Jail with bail set at $674,000.
Eisenberg’s live-in girlfriend, Joyce Stafford, 49, was arrested on drug possession charges, but later released on $7,150 bail.
Eisenberg’s 7-year-old son and an 8-year-old girl were in the house when Eisenberg and Stafford were arrested, authorities said. The girl, a relative, was returned to her family, while Eisenberg’s son was taken into custody by child protective services.
The sheriff’s office began investigating Eisenberg in May 2013 after receiving a tip from a local business owner who noticed an unusual amount of customer traffic and cash transactions at Eisenberg’s Carpet Outlet business.
Zephyrhills Police Chief David Shears called it a “little surprising” that such an operation could be happening at a business on a main thoroughfare in the town.
“This is terrible,” he said, noting that the next step will be to get the users off the streets, many of whom commit burglaries and robberies to support their drug habits.
During the investigation, detectives determined that Eisenberg was usually armed during his drug transactions and that sometimes he was accompanied by one of the children, Nocco said.
More charges could be pending against Eisenberg and possibly against other people who might have been involved with his deals, sheriff’s officials said.
Any doctors who wrote prescriptions for drugs they knew would be sold illegally also could be investigated, but sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Davis said investigators believe in most cases the doctors were duped.