Felony charges were filed Tuesday against a probationer and his girlfriend, who are accused of dealing drugs out of a Riverside home and using a drone to deliver the contraband to customers.
Benjamin Paul Baldassarre, 39, and Ashley Lauren Carroll, 31, were arrested Thursday following an undercover Riverside police investigation into alleged illegal activity at Baldassarre's residence in the Orangecrest quarter of the city.
Along with three counts of possession of controlled substances for sale, the pair are charged with child endangerment and possession of drug paraphernalia.
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They're slated to make an initial joint court appearance this afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice. Both are being held in lieu of $50,000 bail -- Baldassarre at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, and Carroll at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, investigators were alerted earlier this month to possible drug dealing out of a residence in the 8700 block of Chesapeake Lane. Narcotics detectives began surveillance and observed a drone fly out of the backyard of the property to a public parking area not far away, where a package was dropped from the aerial vehicle, he said.
Several people were waiting for the drop and collected the contents, according to police. The activity prompted investigators to obtain a search warrant, which was served on Baldassarre and Carroll Thursday morning, Railsback said.
Officers immediately requested assistance from the fire department's hazardous materials team after locating "used and uncapped hypodermic syringes scattered throughout a bedroom," Railsback said. Along with the biohazard, officers uncovered an undisclosed quantity of methamphetamine, as well as "unpackaged powders believed to contain fentanyl," he alleged.
The defendants were taken into custody without incident.
Baldassarre's 9-year-old daughter was removed from the residence, unharmed, and placed in the care of Riverside County Child Protective Services agents, who eventually released her to her mother, Railsback said.
According to court records, Baldassarre has prior misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence of drugs and being under the influence of a controlled substance.
He and Carroll are also each charged in an unresolved drug-related case, records showed.