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Tyrone street-level dealers among those collared in latest drug bust

Forty people were collared in the area’s latest drug bust including street level dealers from the Tyrone area and other parts of Blair County.
The arrests were the culmination of a five-month investigation and included search warrants executed earlier this week and the issuing of arrest warrants and arraignments of suspects yesterday.
Agent Randy Feathers of the Blair County Drug Task Force said, “Tyrone (Police) are doing a wonderful job.” He deferred questions about the Tyrone aspects of the case to Police Chief Joseph Beachem.
The chief indicated the latest bust is significant in making headway against the drug problem in town. At the same time, he also recognized the enormity of the problem and talked about his department’s resolve in dealing with it.
“For the last couple months we have been doing buys with confidential informants which led up to today,” Beachem told The Daily Herald yesterday. “On Tuesday night, we learned Sarah Leeper was holding what we term ‘weight’ – a decent amount of heroin. We had our informant get the information we needed and we had a previous buy on her. We watched the deal go down at Bressler’s store. The informant had a preset signal to let us know if the deal went through.
“When we got that signal, we arrested her on Hamilton Avenue across from Bressler’s,” said Beachem. “The informant purchased four bags of heroin for $120 and we found another five bags in her left sock.”
An even more significant amount of heroin was discovered at another location in Tyrone after authorities developed and executed a search warrant for a residence at the Tyrone Townhouses on Wednesday night.
“When we got there, our information told us the heroin was kept in a safe,” said Beachem.
He said authorities were let into the apartment immediately after they knocked on the door.
“Miss (Kimberly Ann) Carroll saw who we were, we identified ourselves, she stated, ‘you don’t have to tear the whole house up, it’s in the safe, I know why you are here,’” said Beachem.
He said the whole residence was searched and several needles and empty packets of heroin were found. Inside the safe, police discovered 80 packets of heroin with a street value of $3,200.
Beachem said prescription pills, cash and guns were also discovered. He said the other suspects were apprehended through intelligence which was gathered through the informant buys which were made over the course of the several months of the investigation.
“Obviously, this entire county, this entire state has a drug problem,” said Beachem. “When we target street level dealers, which a lot of these people were, we’re hoping to eliminate and reduce property crimes such as burglary, maybe take some violent people off the streets (and) eliminate and reduce robberies.”
“The ‘h’ packets, the 80 bags which were seized, that is a significant amount of heroin,” said Beachem. “We want people to understand we are targeting people from the bottom up.”
He said the Drug Task Force is a great tool for the department. Beachem also cited the efforts made by state, county and local authorities and the efforts of his own staff.
“We are going to keep on keeping on, it’s a daunting task,” said Beachem. “I know it’s a problem, we are not going to turn the other cheek on it.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, along with local law enforcement officials made the announcement about the busts in Tyrone and other parts of Blair County at a press conference yesterday in Altoona. Agents from the Attorney General\’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI) and nearly 80 Blair County Drug Task Force members and police officer captured or issued arrests warrants for as many as 40 suspected drug dealers.
According to a press release from his office, Corbett said 21 of the defendants are charged with dealing heroin and 12 are charged with selling cocaine. The remaining defendants are charged with selling marijuana and the prescription pain killer Oxycontin as well as Dolophine, the generic methadone and Vicoden.
Corbett said undercover agents made more than 100 drug purchases during the course of the investigation and were also assisted by information forwarded from Blair Counties\’ \”Push Out the Pushers\” hotline (814-693-3020). He said information gathered from street-level investigations, included where the drug dealers obtain their drugs and was used to target mid -to upper-level drug dealers by BNI agents and Attorney General drug prosecutors.
According to the press release about the bust, Corbett said, “As Attorney General, my number one priority is fighting illegal drug distribution throughout Pennsylvania. The work of the Blair County Drug Task Force is a model that we will use throughout the state. I commend the men and women of the task force who work so hard to make Blair County a better place to live, work and raise a family.\”
Corbett thanked police departments from Tyrone, Bellwood Allegheny Township, Altoona, Blair Township, Duncansville, Freedom Township, Greenfield Township, Hollidaysburg, Logan Township, Martinsburg, North Woodbury Township, Pennsylvania State Police Troop G, Penn State University/Altoona Campus Police, Roaring Spring and Williamsburg, along with the Altoona Regional Health System Police, the Altoona School District Police, the Blair County District Attorney\’s Office and the Blair County Sheriff\’s Office for their assistance with ongoing task force investigations.
The suspects in the case were taken to the Frankstown Armory for processing and were arraigned before Magisterial District Judges Fred Miller and Ken Garman.
(Editors note: See box on page 2 for list of Tyrone-based drug suspects.)