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Family complains about noisy, alleged drug-dealing neighbors; gets DCF-style investigation by Sheriff’s office

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A mother and father have had enough of their neighbors’ drug-dealing, late-night romps that devolve from friendly partying into “screaming matches,” court records in a lawsuit filed in early March indicate.

Jose and Lisa Alecia, with their two children, are homeowners in the Gibsonton neighborhood, located in Hillsborough County outside of Tampa, are seeking $75,000 for damages caused by three neighbors renting a townhome next door in violation of community background screenings.

Around two years ago, Yaritza Heredia, Victor Vincente and Bastin Joseph moved in next door, lessees in a house typically required background screenings and more. However, the homeowner did not carry out the standard searches required before letting the trio rent the place.

Over time, a rift widened, as the complaint describes, with the younger three next door to the Alicea’s staying up late and partying, smoking marijuana in plain view for people to see, being loud, riding four-wheel ATVs and tearing up the grounds with those vehicles, etc.

The Alicea’s called the various applicable homeowners’ associations and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

After that, the documents allege, Heredia, Vincente, and Joseph were party to making threats against the Alicea’s, at one point saying “watch out.”

In retaliation for the Alicea’s complaints, the renters allegedly filed a false report to DCF, citing a host of activities on the part of the Alicea’s, including drug dealing. The neighbors had gone tit for tat.

The phone call warranted a visit to the Alisea’s home by an investigator, most likely an investigator from the Child Protection Team with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. (Hillsborough is one of six counties where sheriff’s offices lead all child welfare investigations, not the Florida Department of Children and Families [DCF] – four of those six are in the Tampa Bay area.)

A call placed to the Hillsborough Sheriff’s child protection team by was not immediately returned as to whether a case was still open against the Alicea’s.

The suit alleges malice, negligence, gross negligence, slander, and the demand for an injunction on the dogs, and on Heredia, Vincente and Joseph when they recently filed a false report against the Plaintiffs.

“Specifically, on or about Jan. 30, 2017, the (the three) filed, or caused to be filed, a report indicating that Plaintiffs were involved with and/or selling drugs, which caused the (DCF) to go to the school of Plaintiff’s children on Feb. 2, 2017, with Plaintiffs’ children pulled out of class, and questioned (without their parents present), including questions about any drug use in the home, if there are drugs or weapons in the home, and if there are persons coming in or out of the home regularly,” according to the court filing. “Plaintiffs’ children were upset over the DCF experience and did not understand why law enforcement was pulling them out of class. In addition, law enforcement came to Plaintiffs’ home on Feb. 2, 2017, and did a search of Plaintiffs’ home (no drugs were found) and required Plaintiffs to submit to drug testing, which Plaintiffs both passed.”

Calls were placed to the Alicea’s were not immediately returned Wednesday.

The renters don’t appear to have voter registration IDs in Hillsborough County.

Les Neuhaus is an all-platform journalist, with specialties in print reporting and writing. In addition to Florida Politics, he freelances as a general-assignment and breaking-news reporter for most of the major national daily newspapers, along with a host of digital media, and a human rights group. A former foreign correspondent across Africa and Asia, including the Middle East, Les covered a multitude of high-profile events in chronically-unstable nations. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, in which he served as a Security Policeman, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in political science. He is a proud father to his daughter and enjoys spending time with his family.

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