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Press Release

AG Shapiro: 5 Arrests, 7 Guns Seized In Altoona Gun, Drug Trafficking Takedown

May 26, 2020 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG― Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrest of 5 individuals for gun trafficking related charges and their additional involvement in a methamphetamine operation in Blair County.

“We’re taking down gun and drug traffickers to keep Pennsylvanians safe,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Thanks to strong collaboration with local law enforcement during the health emergency, these criminals, guns, and drugs have been taken out of our neighborhoods.”

This investigation has spanned over the course of 9 months, but it is far from over,” said Sergeant Matthew Plummer of the Altoona Police Department. “We are taking five drug dealers off the street and have confiscated 7 illegal firearms. However, there is more work to be done.  Today’s arrests will aid in the investigation and hopefully lead to taking more dangerous criminals out of our neighborhoods.  We would like to thank the citizens who came forward and assisted in this investigation, along with the PA Office of Attorney General and Blair County DA’s Office.

“This investigation once again demonstrates that drug trafficking is a violent enterprise linked to many other crimes that affect our community,” said District Attorney Peter Weeks. “The District Attorney’s Office is grateful for the proactive approach taken by the Altoona Police Department and the Gun Violence Section of the PAOAG in tracing the origins of firearms recovered on the street and holding those involved accountable.

On August 27, 2019, the Altoona Police Department, Blair County Drug Task force, and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General began an investigation of Michael Burchfield and Summer Heil, two individuals involved in trafficking methamphetamine and heroin into Altoona. The investigation revealed that Burchfield and Heil were in possession of firearms that were stolen from a Blair County home that had been burglarized. Burchfield and Heil received the firearms as payment in exchange for drugs they sold.

The weapons exchanged between Burchfield and Heil were taken from the home of a recently-deceased Blair County resident. The resident’s immediate family did not know that the guns had been stolen from the home and did not report the weapons as stolen after the burglary.

The arrests show how the safe storage of firearms at home is important for public safety.

Those arrested and charged today include: Michael Trosky and Paula Cross of Gallitzin; Michael Burchfield and Summer Heil of Altoona; and Amanda Steele of Hollidaysburg. All five individuals arrested today were involved in trafficking narcotics and illegal possession and transfer of firearms.

The arrests are the result of a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Gun Violence Section, Blair County Drug Task Force, Blair County Office of the District Attorney, and the Altoona Police Department.

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