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Ecstasy crackdown arrest made

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2002

A Richland Township man described by confidential informants as a major customer of Ecstasy dealers has been arrested as part of the continuing crackdown on the sales and delivery of the synthetic, psychoactive drug in western Pennsylvania and elsewhere, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Peter Kostas IV of Meadow Lane, Bakerstown, and Andrew Reno of Columbus, Ohio, were arrested Jan. 29 in the Bridgeville area on charges of possession with the intent to deliver MDMA — commonly known as Ecstasy — after federal agents watched them in a controlled drug buy, prosecutors said.

Two other men, Stanislav "Stas" Lantsberg and Yuri "James" Pylnev, both believed to be from New York, were arrested on similar charges after another controlled drug buy early Tuesday in a Monroeville motel room, prosecutors said. The ages of the four men were not available.

There is no indication on federal court papers that Kostas and Reno are involved with Lantsberg and Pylnev.

Ten individuals have been arrested or indicted by federal authorities since Jan. 24 on charges of sales and delivery of Ecstasy in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.

At the same time, police in Centre County have arrested six people and have issued warrants for six others on charges of delivery of Ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana in the State College area, as well as Blair and Indiana counties.

Two former Penn State students, Oleg "Alex" Logatchev, 23, who has addresses in New York and Mt. Washington, and Jeremy Crouse, 24, of Mt. Washington, were among those indicted last month in Pittsburgh on charges of distributing more than $3 million in Ecstasy since 1998. Both also have been identified as major suppliers of Ecstasy for those arrested in Centre County.

Prosecutors have said that Logatchev routinely made trips to New York to purchase Ecstasy for Pittsburgh and State College. They also said that Logatchev and Crouse belonged to an Ecstasy operation with links to various other locations, including Columbus.

However, court documents do not link Kostas, Reno, Lantsberg or Pylnev with the operation headed by Logatchev and Crouse.

According to a criminal complaint:

A confidential informant who has acknowledged distributing hundreds of thousands of Ecstasy pills to western Pennsylvania and elsewhere since 1997 identified Kostas as being a major customer who has received between 8,000 and 10,000 pills in each of numerous transactions. Kostas was indicted on Jan. 16 on charges of conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy but that indictment remains under seal.

Kostas told the informant in December that he could provide a source —- later identified as Reno — for additional Ecstasy pills. That's when federal authorities used the informant to set up the operation that led to the arrest of Kostas and Reno.

The other criminal complaint states that on Feb. 2, a confidential informant told investigators that he or she has purchased thousands of Ecstasy tablets from Pylnev in the past 18 months. The informant said Pylnev utilized couriers, including Lantsberg, to deliver the Ecstasy.

A second informant said that he or she has traveled to New York to meet Pylnev and Lantsberg to obtain the shipments and bring them back to Pittsburgh for distribution. The informants were then used to set up the operation that led to the arrests of Pylnev and Lantsberg.

Also yesterday, three of those arrested on drug trafficking charges in Centre County waived their right to a preliminary hearing. They include David M. Apple, 23, of Brookdale Drive, Upper St. Clair, who is charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana and conspiracy.

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