Attorney General Shapiro: “I promised to remain vigilant and arrest people peddling poison in Altoona and Blair Counties – and I’ve kept that commitment.”
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced criminal charges against 72 people for selling heroin, illegal prescription opioids, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, crack, bath salts and other drugs in Blair County – the 9th major drug sweep in the county since he took office in January 2017.
“My Office has been focused on keeping drug dealers out of communities in the Altoona region since I was sworn in as Attorney General,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “After the first sweep in this area, I promised to remain vigilant and keep coming back to prosecute people peddling this poison in Altoona and Blair Counties – and I’ve kept that commitment. We’ll continue working with our law enforcement partners to keep this region safe.”
Today’s charges are the result of a year-long cooperative investigation between the Office of Attorney General, Blair County Drug Task Force, Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio’s Office and the Altoona Police Department. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement made a series of approximately 80 controlled purchases utilizing undercover officers/agents.
Many of the arrests in today’s roundup were for individuals selling Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction and prevent painful withdrawal symptoms.
“Nearly half of the drug dealers arrested today were selling Suboxone. This demonstrates the use of Suboxone to either supplement or obtain heroin. Thus, the Suboxone traffic goes hand in hand with opioid addiction in this area and around the state and the county,” said Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio. “I would note that practically all of the dealers arrested today are street-level dealers. It is important that these individuals be targeted. Although most, if not all, of the narcotics suppliers normally come from out of town, these local dealers are a major component in the narcotics network that spreads this poison throughout the county.”
Please click here for a full list of the 72 individuals charged today.
Since taking office, Attorney General Shapiro has emphasized a multi-pronged approach to fighting the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. His office has:
- Arrested on average nearly five drug dealers a day.
- Increased arrests of doctors and other medical personnel for illegal diversions of prescription drugs by 72 percent.
- Destroyed nearly 77 tons of drugs.
- Distributed 300,000 drug disposal pouches in 17 counties in Pennsylvania.
- Worked with the insurance industry to expand access to drug treatment.
- Helped lead an ongoing national investigation by 41 Attorneys General of the pharmaceutical industry for their role in fueling the opioid crisis in our country.
The Attorney General also thanked Operation Our Town for its support. Operation Our Town is an organization in Blair County with a mission of supporting the fight against drugs and violent crime. Individuals with information about drugs or drug dealers in Blair County should contact the Operation Our Town “Push Out the Pusher” hotline at 814-693-3020.
The defendants will be preliminarily arraigned before Blair County Magisterial District Judges Fred Miller and Andrew Blatenberger and will be prosecuted by Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio’s Office.
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