State agents sweep up suspects in sales of heroin
For the second time since May, a state drug detail has arrested suspected heroin dealers in Indiana and Clearfield counties as part of an ongoing investigation into heroin trafficking in rural areas.
Armed with arrest warrants, agents searched Wednesday for 16 suspected mid- and upper-level dealers as part of the probe. Arrests occurred after informants and undercover agents purchased 481 stamp bags of heroin, valued at nearly $10,000, and small amounts of crack cocaine and pain medications from the suspects, according to the Attorney General's Office.
As part of the probe, police have served search warrants over the past several months that led to the seizure of an additional $66,000 in cash, 1,710 stamp bags of heroin with a street value of $34,000, crack cocaine with a street value of approximately $20,000, 28 weapons and one vehicle.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said nine suspects were in custody yesterday afternoon and had been arraigned in Indiana and Clearfield counties. Others still were being sought.
In a three-day period this week, agents of the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations arrested 75 suspected dealers in four counties.
On Tuesday, agents arrested 45 suspected street-level heroin dealers in Blair County. In Luzerne County, agents yesterday arrested 16 alleged dealers who were part of what investigators said was a $15 million drug ring that had sold 12,000 bags of heroin a week since January 2007.
Narcotics investigators arrested 30 suspects in May in connection with the same investigation. Last year, state police arrested 29 suspected dealers in Indiana County.
State law enforcement officials say that heroin, low in cost and high in quality, has had an impact on small towns such as Blairsville and Homer City.
The drug shipments are coming into Indiana County from Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, according to agents of the Attorney General's Office. In the May drug sweep, agents identified shipments that originated in Pittsburgh's North Side, Garfield and East Liberty neighborhoods.
In January, Blairsville's council approved a request to open a methadone clinic in the borough. There is a clinic in nearby Torrance, Derry Township.
Those arrested yesterday were charged with delivery and possession of a controlled substance. Some were charged with conspiracy and criminal use of a communications facility.
Warrants were issued for:
• Nicole Lynne Brown, 24, of Johnstown.
• Daniel Lee Bugay, 23, of Indiana.
• William P. Davis Jr., 48, of Cherry Tree.
• Larry N. Dunlap, 36, of Homer City.
• Stephanie Irene Elliot, 20, of Lucernemines.
• Robert Neal Fiasco, 32, of Mahaffey.
• Anthony Ray Findley, 25, of Cherry Tree.
• Jamie Lee Hoffman, 23, of Northern Cambria.
• Richard Koche, 49, of Blairsville.
• Amber Marie Legros, 23, of Cherry Tree.
• Autumn Dawn McClellan, 24, of Indiana.
• Brittany Anne McCune, 20, of Blairsville.
• Jacquelyn Christine Mehalic, 21, of Homer City.
• Jason Rabatin, 35, of Cherry Tree.
• John David Szentmiklosi, 24, of Homer City.
• Todd Richard Tiger, 31, of Northern Cambria.