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Undercover operation leads to North Huntingdon drug bust

| Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, 9:13 a.m.
North Huntingdon and Irwin police seized drugs with an estimated street value of $15,000, according to the police department. Photo by Lillian DeDomenic

North Huntingdon and Irwin police seized $15,000 in drugs, paraphernalia and cash from a North Huntingdon apartment last Thursday, police said.

Sgt. Jeffrey Bouldin would say only that the suspect is a 19-year-old man. He said police expect to issue a warrant for his arrest.

"Charges are still pending, because of the amount of drugs here," Bouldin said. "What we receive back on the lab will determine the charges we file."

The suspect was not home when officers executed a search warrant, and seized drug paraphernalia, a digital scale, about $680 in cash several bags of suspected ecstasy in powder and pill form, along with a marijuana and "bath salts" - a synthetic drug, Bouldin said.

He declined to identify the apartment's location.

"The suspect was not home at the time of the investigation, but he is aware we conducted the search and have been in touch with his parents," Bouldin said.

Bouldin said the two departments, which both are members of the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force, worked with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office to conduct the undercover investigation.

Police could file charges against others, but Bouldin said that would be determined as the investigation continues.

Officers suspect the suspect used the bath salts, which were purchased online, to mix with the powdered ecstasy. Bouldin said the attorney general's office plans to conduct an analysis on the drugs.

The bust marks the first time township police confiscated bath salts, Bouldin said.

According the Drug Enforcement Administration's website, bath salts have effects similar to amphetamines, LSD and cocaine.

State lawmakers banned bath salts in 2011.

"We have a big problem with drugs in North Huntingdon, but it's not just here, it's all of Westmoreland County," Bouldin said.

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