County drug bust focused in south

The Blair County Drug Task Force conducted a drug sweep yesterday netting 32 for various drug counts. Of the 32 netted in the sweep, 18 were arrested on heroin charges and five for crack.
“We’re obviously looking to help stop this problem,” said Blair County Assistant Jackie Bernard. “We are systematically breaking this problem. We are getting street level dealers right now.
The goal is to gain intelligence from the street level dealers, hoping to bring down the major suppliers and also making it tougher for drugs to be purchased.
“This was one of our smaller raids,” said Bernard. “We have had raids of about 60 people, but this raid is in the low thirties. By conducting raids every couple of months we hope it is sending a message to the dealers that we are after them.”
Tyrone police chief Joe Beachem assisted the Blair County Drug Task Force in the raid.
One of those arrested during the raid, Wayne Weaver of Altoona, has a case still pending from the raid that was held in January.
Many of those who were rounded up in the raid were arrested for between one and five counts of possession and delivery of the substance.
“Our agents are dealing with a couple bags for every buy,” said Bernard. “Sentencing depends on how much in weight they are buying and if they are near a school zone. Most of the people arrested will not have enough weight to demand a more serious bail or sentence.”
Many of those arrested were in their thirties and forties.
“Individuals that are being arrested are older,” said Bernard. “Heroin was the substance that brought in the most arrests. Heroin use breaks any socio-economic mold. Once it gets a hold of you it is very tough to break. People are seeing that there is money to be made and are willing to take the gamble on making a quick buck. Many in this raid were over 45. Many think heroin users and sellers are younger, but that isn’t the case.”
Currently there is a push for education for the drug dealers and users, but Bernard disagrees with that philosophy.
“People need to take responsibility for their actions,” said Bernard. “The defendants are granted bail as a guarantee that they will appear in court. The judges have defined limits they can place on granting bail. If someone who is arrested can’t make bail, they will sit in jail waiting for trial, and get credit for time served while they are waiting for trial.”
Anyone can help in the battle against drugs. If anyone suspects that there is someone dealing or using controlled substances, contact the local police.