State and local police have tracked down 27 drug distributors and dealers selling about $10 million worth of crystal methamphetamine in the Philadelphia area and eastern Pennsylvania, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
"Operation Blowout" identified a network of distributors and dealers responsible for transporting bulk quantities of meth into Reading and Philadelphia -- as much as a pound of drugs every two weeks,” state Attorney General Linda Kelly said at a morning press conference. “The meth was then repackaged into smaller quantities and resold by various associates in an area stretching from Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley all the way to Lycoming and Tioga counties, near the New York State border in north-central Pennsylvania.”
Much of the drugs came from Mexico, officials said, and the ongoing investigation is seeking a second source.
A partially dismantled meth lab was confiscated from a storage locker in Levittown, but “there is no evidence where the meth was made,” said Chief Deputy Attorney General Andrew Rongaus.
All but two of the suspects were charged Tuesday in Penndel, and were being held in Bucks County prison on bail ranging from $10,000 to $2 million. Police are looking for the other suspects, officials said.
During the investigation, which started nearly four years ago, police seized “about four pounds of crystal meth, one partially dismantled meth lab, nearly 100 firearms, $110,000 in cash, and 16 vehicles,” Kelly said.
They also confiscated drug-packaging materials, containers used to hide drugs, and records indicating drug sales and money owed for purchases, she said.
Bags of meth and marijuana were displayed at the press conference at the Attorney General’s Philadelphia office near the airport, with nearly 100 guns and rifles.
The public should care about the arrests because of the guns, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said
“These people use a lot of guns” he said, referring to the suspects.
Nineteen of the suspects are from Bucks County, including one of the top distributors, John Hodgson of Levittown, according to a state grand jury presentment handed down in September.
The top two sources of the meth were Sim Bradley, 72, of the 7000 block of Walnut Lane in Philadelphia, and Raul Cosme, 38, formerly of Reading, according to the presentment. Cosme’s source was Mexico, and he occasionally picked up shipments in Texas, according to the presentment.
Bradley’s source of the meth is under investigation, officials said.
The suspects face charges including participating in a corrupt organization, delivery of a controlled substance, and criminal conspiracy. Each count of drug delivery carries a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years.