Monongahela traffic stop results in new heroin case
A West Mifflin man facing trial on drug charges allegedly told Monongahela police he continues to sell heroin because “business is slow.”
Now he faces more charges in a new case.
Jeffrey John Martinez, 43, of 307 Village Lane Road, was charged following a traffic stop 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Officer William Fusco said he recognized Martinez, who was driving a gold Chevrolet Silverado at the intersection of Seventh and West Main streets. Fusco said he knew Martinez's license has been suspended for a DUI conviction.
When Fusco asked Martinez if he had weapons or anything else illegal in his possession, the suspect allegedly replied, “You know what I got.”
Martinez allegedly pulled an Altoid mints container from the waistband of his pants and gave it to Fusco. It contained 37 stamp bags of suspected heroin, police said.
As Martinez was being handcuffed, he allegedly told Fusco, “I have a good bit more in the passenger seat compartment.”
That's where Fusco discovered 100 stamp bags of suspected heroin, $332 and two hypodermic needles. Martinez allegedly told police he's a heroin user, but also sells it on the side because “business is slow.”
He is charged with 15 counts each of manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance (15 bundles of suspected heroin), and single counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license.
Martinez was arraigned via video at Night Court by Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins and sent to the Washington County Correctional Facility in lieu of $25,000 bond.
He faces a preliminary hearing 1:15 p.m. May 22 before Magisterial District Judge Mark Wilson in Monongahela.
It is the second time Fusco arrested Martinez on drug charges.
Martinez allegedly drove his car into the rear of another vehicle Feb. 13 in Finleyville. Fusco found three stamp bags of suspected heroin in Martinez's possession and another 27 stamp bags inside the suspect's vehicle.
In that case, Martinez was free on bail. He faces charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a suspended license.
He is awaiting a trial on those charges in Washington County Court.
Monongahela police Chief Brian Tempest described Martinez as a mid-level street dealer.
City police have been making numerous drug arrests, seizing hundreds of stamp bags of heroin before the illicit drugs make it to the street, Tempest said.
Tempest said that in the wake of the crackdown on illegal drug activity by Mon Valley police and county drug task forces, the price of heroin is rising.
“They were going for as low as $7, now they're as high as $15,” Tempest said of individual stamp bags.
Monongahela Mayor Bob Kepics praised the department.
“They are sending the message with all of these arrests that we won't tolerate drugs in our city,” Kepics said.
Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.