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Two men arrested during traffic stop in Jeannette; drugs, handgun seized

| Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 11:39 p.m.

Two Allegheny County men were arrested on drug and weapons charges on Thursday night in Jeannette.

Marc Anthony West Jr., 22, of Pittsburgh was arraigned on Friday before District Judge Joseph DeMarchis on three charges of possession. Ismael Mollett, 18, also of Pittsburgh, was arraigned on charges of person not to possess firearm, carrying firearm without a license and possession.

In an affidavit of probable cause, Jeannette Patrolman James Phillips said that a traffic stop led to the confiscation of 240 stamp bags of suspected heroin, a bag of suspected marijuana and a prohibited weapon.

Phillips said that a registration violation led him to stop the Chevrolet Impala with three men inside at South 12th Street and Penn Avenue about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Phillips requested police backup because the car's occupants were behaving suspiciously, he said.

Upon arriving at the scene, Officers Justin Scalzo and Dennis Pape detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, Scalzo said.

The driver, who was not charged, claimed his window would not roll down all the way and tried to get out of the car, claiming he “had to tell us something,” Scalzo said.

“They all seemed extremely nervous,” Scalzo said.

The driver, who claimed to be a jitney driver, told police that one of his passengers, later identified as Mollett, had thrown a firearm from the back to the front of the car when it was stopped.

Phillips said a loaded semiautomatic handgun was found near the front passenger seat's interior wheel well.

“The story was they were in town to go to a costume party, but they couldn't say who they were going to visit,” Scalzo said.

Phillips estimated that the suspected heroin could bring $2,500 to $3,000 in street sales.

“That is definitely a huge bust for our department,” Scalzo said.

After their arraignment, West and Mollett were held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $25,000 and $40,000 bond, respectively.

They face preliminary hearings on Nov. 14 before DeMarchis.

Because of recent violent incidents, law enforcement officers from Penn, Manor and the Westmoreland County sheriff's office assisted at the scene.

The department's canine officer, Falco, was brought to the scene to keep the car's passengers from fleeing, Scalzo said.

“We need as many (officers) here as we can get. We are running shorthanded with 11 guys. The last few days we have made some really good arrests,” Scalzo said.

Mayor Robert Carter praised the officers' work.

“We have been cleaning house. They (officers) are being aggressive. This sends a message. … You come to Jeannette (to commit a crime), you will get stopped,” Carter said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at mpickels@tribweb.com or 724-836-5401.

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