Tip leads to big Key West drug haul

Two men charged with possessing a large amount of illegal drugs with the intent to sell have been released from jail on $5,000 bond each.

An anonymous tip led to the Tuesday arrests of Alisher Zaharov, 21, and Andrei Balouev, 33, on Eagle Avenue in Key West. They allegedly sold drugs ranging from marijuana to Xanax, and were sprung from the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island Wednesday.

Each is charged with felony counts of selling marijuana and selling prescription drugs, and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

That followed execution of a search warrant by a small army of law enforcement -- the Key West Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Customs and Border Protection and even the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service.

When police searched the property, Key West officer Henry Del Valle wrote that Zaharov admitted to selling marijuana and Xanax and specifically asked if he would be charged with three felonies.

Police said they found at the residence a mason jar with 511 Xanax pills in it, more than $5,000 in cash and three pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed bags. Police also found an invoice in Zaharov's bedroom for hypodermic needles, which he allegedly sold.

When all was said and done, law enforcement retrieved more than three pounds of marijuana, 538 Xanax pills, $6,922 in cash, a couple scales and a BB gun.

Balouev was previously arrested for charges including cocaine possession in Key West in 2006.

Balouev is scheduled for arraignment in front of Monroe County Judge Wayne Miller at 8:45 a.m. March 4, while Zaharov is scheduled for arraignment in front of Monroe County Circuit Judge Mark Jones at 8:45 a.m. the following day.