On the Rise: Heroin Arrests and Seizures from Philadelphia to Johnstown

February 16, 2017 | Topic: Opioids

PHILADELPHIA —Today, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the latest in a string of heroin arrests across Pennsylvania as the Office of Attorney General charged a 36-year-old man with selling heroin to its agents in Philadelphia. When agents searched the man’s house, they uncovered a stash of heroin with an estimated street value of more than $138,000.

Shapiro’s announcement of the Philadelphia arrest and seizure came days after Office of Attorney General agents, working with local police in Johnstown and Altoona, broke up another heroin distribution network, arrested five individuals, and seized heroin valued at $100,000.

The heroin seized in the Philadelphia arrest would have produced 4,100 doses for sale on the street. In the Johnstown case, Office of Attorney General investigators seized 200 bricks of heroin – capable of producing 10,000 doses.

“It only takes one dose to kill,” Attorney General Shapiro said in announcing the arrests and seizures today at a news conference at OAG’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation office in Philadelphia. Flanked by OAG attorneys, agents and city police officials, Shapiro thanked Philadelphia police for their cooperation. “These are large amounts of heroin that our agents seized. The cooperation of local law enforcement is critical as our agents build cases, arrest drug dealers, and get heroin off our streets. We’re thankful to local police in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania as we confront this crisis of heroin and opioids together.”

Philadelphia heroin bust

Agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, working with Philadelphia police, arrested Erixon Colon, 36, of 4046 M Street in Philadelphia, Friday afternoon, and charged him with selling heroin to agents on two different occasions in the city’s Juniata neighborhood. Following his arrest, agents executed a search warrant on Colon’s home and seized 125 grams of bulk heroin and 1,403 bags packaged for street sale.

Colon faces felony charges of possession with intent to deliver, dealing in proceeds, and using a communications facility (cell phone), and misdemeanor charges of intentional possession of controlled substances and possessing paraphernalia. He is being held in a Philadelphia correctional facility on $1.5 million 10 percent bail.

Shapiro was joined at the news conference by Philadelphia Police Inspector Melvin Singleton, whose officers worked on the case and arrest and seizures with OAG agents.

Johnstown and Altoona heroin ring arrests

On Monday, Office of Attorney General agents, working again with local police in Altoona and Johnstown, arrested five individuals charged with participating in a distribution ring in possession of 200 bricks of heroin valued at $100,000. OAG agents charged Damon Devine, 40, of Philadelphia, with heading up the ring in Johnstown and Altoona. The heroin seized would have produced 10,000 doses for sale.

Investigators arrested Devine and charged him with selling heroin to an undercover informant. Four of Devine’s alleged co-conspirators were also arrested as part of a investigation conducted by OAG’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, the Blair and Cambria County Drug Task Forces, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and police in Altoona and Johnstown.

Agents executed a search warrant at a Johnstown house as a result and seized the bulk heroin, 87 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $8,700, $11,849 in cash and paraphernalia. The five individuals arrested were charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy, and related offenses. All are in custody in Blair County:

  • Damon Devine, of 1223 N. 60th St., Philadelphia
  • Jasmine McGowan, 26, 179 Strayer St., Johnstown
  • Anthony Freiwald, 29, 317 4th Ave., Johnstown
  • Barbara Tyler, 57, of Trenton, N.J.
  • James Everett-Bey, 39, 5611 Hunter St., Philadelphia

“The year is just six weeks old,” Shapiro said. “We’re fighting this crisis on every front, in every community in our Commonwealth.”

In addition to the ongoing law enforcement actions conducted by his office, Shapiro noted the demand for more and better treatment options for persons addicted to drugs, the necessity of getting more naloxone into the hands of first responders statewide, and the need for the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance industries to be engaged to play more of a role in combating the epidemic in Pennsylvania.

“I know we cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Shapiro concluded. “The heroin and opioid epidemic is the #1 problem facing our Commonwealth, and it’s going to take a comprehensive approach from all of these stakeholders to help solve it.”

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