Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

Februaruy 19, 2014


Mobile Street Crimes Unit nets more than 100 arrests in Hazleton

2-19-2014-Opr_Rising_Star_ChartHARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane and Hazleton Chief of Police Frank V. DeAndrea Jr. today announced the successes of the Mobile Street Crimes Unit in Hazleton, which include over 100 arrests and approximately 35,000 packets of heroin seized. In just the last 3 days, agents have made 30 arrests and seized 9,060 packets of heroin as a part of "Operation Rising Star."

"I envisioned this unit to be fast and effective," said Attorney General Kane. "We have identified drug networks and their key players, and we have crippled their operations."

"Hazleton is a safer place than it was five months ago. I promise the law-abiding citizens here that our investigative resources will be available to local law enforcement long after we leave," she said. "But there are too many ?Hazletons? across the Commonwealth. The benefit of this program is in its mobility, and ability to offer immediate aid and long lasting benefits as we deploy from city to city. "

With a population of 33,000 but only 38 police officers, Attorney General Kane deployed the Mobile Street Crimes Unit (known as X-IMPACT) to Hazleton in September to assist the Hazleton City Police Department with taking back a city that was overrun with violent, drug-related crimes. 

Investigations uncovered that heroin is the drug of choice in the Hazleton area. Approximately 64 stamps of heroin have since been identified and roughly 35,000 bags of heroin have been seized. As with any brand name, these stamps purportedly signify the quality of the heroin being bought and the organization from which it can be obtained.

In five months' time, "Operation Rising Star," in conjunction with 16 local, state and federal agencies, identified numerous drug trafficking organizations. Many of the defendants arrested are also affiliated with street gangs including the Bloods and the Latin Kings. Evidence showed that gangs in Hazleton were recruiting children as young as 9-years-old.

Attorney General Kane said Hazleton has become a breeding ground for the distribution of heroin ? Interstates 80 and 81 intersect in Hazleton, and there are several cargo airports and two major railways.  The main sources of heroin into Hazleton are New York City and northern New Jersey, and Hazleton is a sub source of heroin into the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre regions.

Other drugs encountered in Hazleton included powder cocaine, crack cocaine, diverted prescription pills, marijuana and synthetic marijuana.2-19-2014-Opr-Rising-Star-Chart-2

Hazleton Chief of Police Frank V. DeAndrea Jr. lauded Attorney General Kane for her commitment to Hazleton, noting that the Office of Attorney General's agents and attorneys retrained his police force to conduct sophisticated investigations into drug trafficking.

"We were losing a war and losing hope before Attorney General Kane sent X-IMPACT to us," Chief DeAndrea said. "I call this operation 'Rising Star' because we now have a light to follow. I hope the legislature will continue to support this program so that citizens in other cities and towns infested with drugs and gangs can navigate through the darkness."

The Hazleton community, including area businesses, played a significant role in the success of the Mobile Street Crimes Unit in Hazleton.

Attorney General Kane launched the Commonwealth's first Mobile Street Crimes Unit to combat gang-related violence and drug trafficking, which have plagued communities across the state and pose serious threats to public safety. The unit is tasked not only with fighting drug- and gang-related activity, but also with fostering cooperation and improving coordination among local, state and federal law enforcement. It will be deployed to another community in need in near future.

Below is a list of the "Operation Rising Star" defendants arrested over the last three days:

--Henry Abreu, 36, 329 W. County Road, Sugarloaf, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of delivery of marijuana one count of conspiracy to deliver marijuana and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Julio Acosta Vargas, 33, 218 W. 5th St., Apt. 1, Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with two counts of delivery of crack cocaine/heroin, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver crack cocaine/heroin and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Candace Alexander, age unknown, 619 Hobart St., Gordon, Schuylkill County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin.

--Harry Bellitts, 44, 39 E. Market St., P.O. Box 413, Tresckow, Carbon County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess heroin.

--Shalyn Blankenship, 30, 784 Stone Church Road, Berwick, Columbia County, is charged with one count of possession with the intent to deliver heroin and one count of possession of heroin.

--Johnny Boynton, 35, 409 Chestnut St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver heroin, one count of delivery of molly, three counts of criminal use of a communication facility and two counts of conspiracy to possession with the intent to deliver heroin.

-Juanita Boynton, 37, 409 Chestnut St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with two counts of conspiracy possession with the intent to deliver heroin and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--John Callaghan, 55, State Route 107 845, Nicholson, Wyoming County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of conspiracy to possess heroin.

--Rafael Colon, 42, 36 E. 1st St., 1st Floor, Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession of synthetic marijuana.

--Dennis Cooper, 55, 583 Peace St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver heroin, three counts of criminal conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver heroin and three counts of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Pedro Crespo, 19, 844 N. Vine St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with three counts of delivery of heroin, three counts of possession of heroin and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Victor De Los Santos, 23, 123 E. Maple St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession with the intent to deliver heroin, one count of criminal conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver heroin and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Tracey Decker, 43, 240 E. Diamond Ave., Apt. 2, Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of possession of cocaine.

--Gerardo Diaz-Perez, 34, 232 E. Mine St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of delivery of heroin, one count of possession with the intent to deliver heroin and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver heroin.

--James Drob, 51, 501 S. Kennedy Dr., McAdoo, Schuylkill County, is charged with one count of delivery of heroin, one count of conspiracy to deliver heroin and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Robert Dufallo Jr., 551 Hayes St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with two counts of making false statements on a gun application.

--Crystal Fehnel, 26, 506 W. Main St., Weatherly, Carbon County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin.

--John Felice Jr., 45, 518 Ridge St., Freeland, Luzerne County, is charged with three counts of delivery of heroin, two counts of delivery of Xanax and two counts of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Angelo Fiola, 51, 740 Jumper Road, Lot 205, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver heroin, one count of criminal use of a communication facility and one count of possession with the intent to deliver heroin.

--Nathan Fritz, 25, 231 Catawissa St., Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of possession of paraphernalia.

--Matthew Genery, 25, 208 W. Laurel St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession with the intent to deliver marijuana and one count of possession of marijuana.

--Sheila Gimbi, 28, 551 Hayes St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin.

--Felipe Gonzalez, 35, 401 Main St., PO Box 35, Drifton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession of synthetic marijuana.

--Erin Gaultier, 52, 305 Alvin St., Freeland, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia.

--Yovanne Gutierrez, 22, 818 W. 1st St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of delivery of heroin and one count of conspiracy to deliver heroin.

--Dennis Hall, 36, 528 Cleveland St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of delivery of heroin, one count of possession of heroin, one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Justin Hill, 22, 37 E. Ridge St., Apt. B, Lansford, Carbon County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia.
--Sara Hittinger, 33, 39 E. Market St., P.O. Box 413, Tresckow, Carbon County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess heroin.

--Debra Horvath, 55, 2008 Main St., Mahanoy Plane, Schuylkill County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin.

--Alyssa Kalnas, 20, 800 Locust St., Hazleton Apartments #814, Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with two counts of possession with the intent to deliver heroin and two counts of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Adam Kasten, 21, 183 Valley St., New Philadelphia, Schuylkill County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia.

--Jennifer Marchetti, 33, 15 Old St. Johns Lane, Drums, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin.

--Chatelle Medashekski, 19, 527 Vine St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with five counts of criminal use of a communication facility, one count of possession with the intent to deliver heroin and one count of criminal conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver heroin.

--Joshua Minaker, 28, 208 Washington St., Freeland, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia.

--Duamel Munoz Rodriguez, 36, 562 Seybert St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of conspiracy to deliver heroin and one count of conspiracy to possess heroin.

--Robert Nemeth, 35, 63 Center Hill Road, Sugarloaf, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin.

--Pablo Padilla, 25, 523 Ridge Ave., West Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with two counts of criminal use of a communication facility, one count of possession with the intent to deliver crack and one count of possession with the intent to deliver crack cocaine.

--Douglas Patton, 43, 439 E. Diamond Ave., Hazleton, Luzerne County, one count of delivery of heroin and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

--Jonathan Peguero, 28, 589 Alter St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver synthetic marijuana, one count of criminal conspiracy to possess with the intent to deliver and one count of possession of synthetic marijuana.  On a separate complaint two counts of delivery of heroin, one count of possession of heroin.

--Richard Pizzo, 30, 23 Circle Drive, Barnesville, Schuylkill County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin.

--William Rivera Jr., 45, 560 Carson St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of delivery of heroin, one count of conspiracy to delivery heroin and one count of possession of heroin.

--Juan Santiago, age unknown, address unknown, is charged with five counts of delivery of heroin/cocaine, two counts of criminal use of a communication facility and two counts of conspiracy to deliver heroin/cocaine.

--Tommy Stephenson II, 32, 1418 Myrtle St., Scranton, Lackawanna County, is charged with one count of possession of heroin and one count of conspiracy to possess heroin.

--Eric Stradford, 37, 301 Ridge Ave., West Hazleton, Luzerne County, is charged with one count of delivery of heroin, one count of possession with the intent to deliver heroin and one count of possession of heroin.

--Christopher Velasquez, 25, address unknown, is charged with two counts of delivery of crack cocaine and two counts of possession with the intent to deliver crack cocaine.

--Miranda Welsh, 36, 113 Tripond Road, Lock Haven, Clinton County, is charged with one count of delivery of heroin and one count of conspiracy to possession with the intent to deliver heroin.


(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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