9 suspects in 'staggering' drug bust to get hearing on high bail

Used needles litter the ground at an open-air drug market along Conrail train tracks in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

Citing the danger to Philadelphia neighborhoods posed by the opioid crisis, state prosecutors are trying to make permanent the $1 million bail set for each of nine people arrested Sept. 1 in a Summerdale raid in which police allegedly seized up to 40,000 bags of heroin and fentanyl valued at $1.5 million.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Georgia D. Barker made the request Friday to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Tracy Brandeis Roman, calling the amount of the deadly drugs taken from the Rosalie Street rowhouse “staggering” and saying the nine people — all identified as natives of the Dominican Republic — likely would flee if released.

Roman, however, postponed a decision on the prosecution request for the unusually high bail until a Sept. 27 hearing after defense attorneys Peter C. Bowers and Louis T. Savino objected. The defense lawyers told Roman that without official testing, the drugs involved might not warrant $1 million bail for each of the nine.

Barker agreed to the delay, but told Roman that “the bulk is staggering,” regardless of the unofficial State Police field test analysis of the drug-filled glassine bags seized in the raid.

In a news release, the Attorney General’s Office called it “among the largest drug seizures by the office in recent memory.”

On Sept. 1, drug agents from the Attorney General’s Office, working with Philadelphia Police, raided a house in the 1100 block of Rosalie Street and allegedly seized 30,000 to 40,000 glassine bags of heroin and fentanyl – an even more potent synthetic opioid – and six to nine pounds of unbagged drugs with a street value of about $1.5 million.

Illegal use of heroin and other opioids has been blamed for an increasing number of overdose deaths around the country. In July, an analysis by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania last year – an increase of almost 37 percent.

The number of heroin deaths has remained steady, the DEA reported, but fatal overdoses from fentanyl increased 130 percent.

According to the state Attorney General’s Office, a state drug agent and four city police officers began experiencing symptoms after being exposed to drug powder during the Rosalie Street raid. All five were administered the anti-opioid overdose drug Narcan and recovered.

The immediate neighborhood around the house was cordoned off and Philadelphia firefighters helped decontaminate the area.

State prosecutors identified the nine people arrested as: Antonio Galan, 37, and his sister, Yolarini Galan, 35; José Muñoz, 42; Carlos Muñoz, 24; Emillio Padilla, 24; Walky Pereira, 31; José Manuel Robles-German, 23; Jancy Rosario, 27; and Ariel Rondon, 32.

State court records show that only Robles-German had a prior arrest and it was withdrawn.

All nine suspects remain in custody on charges involving manufacturing and distributing drugs, and prosecutors argued that they likely would flee if released.

The chance of any of them being released on bail seems unlikely. In addition to asking that the $1 million bail be continued for each defendant, prosecutors also have asked for a “Nebbia hearing” at which the defendants must document the legitimacy of the source of any money to be applied toward bail. The hearing is named for a New York drug defendant whose case resulted in a federal appeals court decision in 1966 that a judge may inquire about the legality of the source of money a defendant is asking to apply to bail.