Mt. Pleasant police make drug bust
By Marilyn Forbes
Published: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 9:12 p.m.
A reliable tip and the efforts of two Mt. Pleasant borough police officers, assisted by the department's K9 officer, kept several pounds of marijuana from hitting the streets on Tuesday, police said.
Mt. Pleasant police on Tuesday arrested Toriano Thomas, 42, of North Huntingdon. He was charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and carrying a firearm without a license.
Acting on a tip, Assistant Police Chief Dan Zilli said, officers found Thomas on South Silver Street.
“We had information that he would be bringing a large amount of marijuana into Mt. Pleasant,” Zilli said. “He arrived at the location with the intent of dropping it off.”
Zilli contacted Officer George Grippo, who brought his canine partner, Gerro, to the scene. As soon as the canine began to circle the exterior of the vehicle, he had a “hit.”
“He went into position when he approached the rear passenger door area by the seam of the Jeep,” Grippo said.
The officers impounded the vehicle and took it to the borough police department. After receiving a search warrant from an area magistrate, police searched the vehicle.
Police said the search resulted in them seizing 2.5 pounds of marijuana and $2,726 in cash that was located in different areas of the car. A gun was located under the driver's seat, said Grippo.
“We found the marijuana in a string knapsack, and we also located a smaller amount of marijuana in the middle of the console,” Grippo said.
The estimated street value of the bust is between $8,000 and $10,000.
The 9 mm gun was registered to Thomas, but he did not have a permit to carry the weapon.
Thomas was arraigned before District Judge Roger Eckels and is free on $50,000 cash bail.
The Mt. Pleasant officers said they have been busy over the past several months, making a concerted effort to crack down drug usage and trafficking in the borough.
“The police department in general is cracking down on drugs,” Zilli said. He said Tuesday's bust was the largest amount of marijuana seized to date.
“This bust kept a lot of marijuana from being distributed here in Mt. Pleasant,” Grippo said.
Mt. Pleasant Mayor Jerry Lucia commended the officers on a job well done and said Gerro is playing an important role in the borough.
“Gerro has really proved to be an asset to the department,” Lucia said. “He is a great addition to the department, and he has proven to be a good officer.”
Police ask that anyone with information on suspected drug usage or distribution contact the department and ask for Zilli or Grippo. Information will be kept confidential.
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.
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