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Altoona drug bust connected to Tyrone

Randy Feathers, special agent with the Blair County Drug Task Force, said this morning the bust yesterday of nine suspected crack cocaine dealers in Blair and Cambria counties did have ties to Tyrone.
“Anytime you are dealing with an operation of this size in the area, you can almost count on the drugs reaching the outlining areas, including northern Blair County,” said Feathers.
“Realistically, we’re sure some of these products were making their way to Tyrone, but I don’t have any concrete information. Some things witnesses said have tied the head of the organization to dealers in Tyrone.”
Yesterday, Attorney General Jerry Pappert, along with Blair County District Attorney David Gorman, Cambria County District Attorney David Tulowitzki and local and state police officials, announced that state narcotics agents, state police and drug task force officers were in the process of capturing as many as nine suspected crack cocaine dealers operating in Blair and Cambria counties for the past several years.
Pappert said the investigation was initiated by agents of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, Blair and Cambria County Drug Task Forces and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Pappert said prosecutors from his office and agents presented evidence of the alleged drug dealers’ illegal activities before a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended that he file criminal charges.
Pappert said the grand jury identified the alleged ring leader as Akil “Old Head” Johnson of Johnstown, but formerly of Philadelphia. The grand jury found that Johnson allegedly began selling crack cocaine in 1999, and that from 2000 through 2002, he was importing as much as a half kilo of crack cocaine per week.
Pappert said his agents estimate that Johnson’s organization distributed more than $3 million worth of crack cocaine during the years 2000 through 2002.
Pappert said Johnson allegedly sold crack cocaine from hotels, residences and other locations in Blair and Cambria counties.
Pappert said the grand jury found that Johnson established a crack cocaine distribution network in Blair and Cambria counties.
Pappert said the grand jury found that Johnson ran a tightly knit organization. The grand jury found that Johnson’s “boys” wouldn’t do anything as simple as take a car from one location to another without asking Johnson for his permission. The grand jury heard testimony that Johnson would regularly yell at members of his organization for failure to answer their cell phones because they were missing crack cocaine sales.
The grand jury found that Johnson allegedly recruited members of his organization from Philadelphia and brought them to Blair and Cambria counties to work for him.
The grand jury found that from August 1997 through August 2002, Johnson had been incarcerated on seven separate occasions in the Blair County Prison. Many of the incarcerations were for short periods of time; however, he was incarcerated for 19 months from August 1998 through Febraury 2000.
The grand jury found upon Johnson’s release from prison in Febraury 2000 that his organization became much larger and far more efficient.
Pappert said the grand jury identified Johnson’s right hand man as Brandon Thompkins. He was described by numerous witnesses, who appeared before the grand jury, as Johnson’s key lieutenant who he arranged for many of the drug sales and collected money for Johnson.
Thompkins allegedly began selling crack cocaine as early as 14 or 15 years old, and would often travel to Philadelphia with Johnson to buy crack cocaine and bring it back to Blair and Cambria counties.
Pappert said the grand jury heard testimony from one witness who said that from 2000 through 2002, he purchased an eight-ball of crack cocaine on hundred of occasions from Thompkins. Pappert explained that an eight-ball of crack cocaine is the equivalent of an eighth of a gram.
Pappert said the grand jury found that Johnson, Thompkins and others in their organization stored, repackaged and sold crack cocaine from the residences of Cindy Cooney of Lilly and Antoinette “Grandma” Pierce of Cresson.
Cooney allegedly was given an eighth ounce of crack cocaine a day by Johnson or his associate for allowing Thompkins and others to stay at her residence. The grand jury also found that Johnson and Thompkins would often take Cooney’s vehicle to obtain crack cocaine.
Pappert said the grand jury found that, in addition to allowing her residence to be used as a crack house, Pierce also allegedly sold crack cocaine on two occasions to undercover officers.
The grand jury also identified Ramon “Ray Ray” Lewis; Edward Frischkorn Jr.; David “Rock” or “R-Dog” Walker; Tyrel “Rel” or “Double R” Walker; and Brian Wood as other members of Johnson alleged distribution ring.
Pappert said that during the course of the investigation, agents arranged five controlled purchases of crack cocaine from David Walker and an additional five controlled purchased of crack cocaine from Tyrel Walker.
The grand jury found that Ramon Lewis allegedly would take his direction from Thompkins about potential customers. Additionally, Pappert said that six undercover purchases of crack cocaine were made with Frischkorn and four controlled purchases from Brian Wood.
Each of those defendants obtained their crack cocaine directly from Johnson or Thompkins and sold it to others.
The defendants are scheduled to be preliminarily arraigned before Altoona District Justice Kenneth Garman. They will be prosecuted in Blair County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael Madeira of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section and Blair County Assistant District Attorney Jackie Bernard, who has been cross-designated as a special deputy attorney general.