Tyrone Police play key role in latest Altoona drug bust

Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman was in Tyrone yesterday to announce a drug bust that happened in Altoona.
The bust led to the arrest of four men including two from the New York City area. $15,000 worth of heroin, cash, a handgun and other items were also seized.
Next to DA Gorman at the press conference was Tyrone Police Chief Joseph Beachem and Drug Task Force agent Anthony Sassano. So why hold a press conference in Tyrone about an Altoona drug bust?
Gorman said, “The Tyrone Police were able to develop an informant who was able to indicate you were able to purchase off of these individuals. As a result of the efforts, purchases were made and a search warrant was prepared and executed based in part on the efforts of the informant…”
Gorman said he didn’t necessarily think there was a connection with this case and other drug busts that had New York connections. He said it was more a matter of individuals from New York and previously Philadelphia drug peddlers discovering this area as a place where “there is a need for heroin.”
The bust took place early Tuesday morning after a purchase was made on Monday in Altoona.
Authorities confirmed children age six and under were present at the time of the search warrant was executed. All four men arrested were charged with child endangerment in addition to other drug-related crimes.
A press release from Attorney General Tom Corbett’s office said members of the Blair County Drug Task Force made a controlled purchase of three bags of heroin from Angel Diaz and Joshua Winslow at 1914 6th Avenue in Altoona. Authorities learned Diaz allegedly possessed a large quantity of heroin.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, officers executed the search warrant at the residence and arrested the four men. Authorities seized 305 packets of heroin and other items including cash, cell phones and a nine-millimeter handgun allegedly belonging Diaz.
At one point during the execution of the search warrant, the weapon was visible to Sassano, but Diaz put it in a drawer before becoming aware of Sassano’s presence at a back door of the residence.
Sassano said during his more than 25 years in law enforcement he has been called upon to make “life-long judgments in a split second.”
Although the latest arrests occurred in Altoona, Chief Beachem was asked about the level of the drug activity in Tyrone considering its population.
He responded, “I’m not going to say there is not a problem, but I don’t think it’s any worse than anywhere else. I think you’ve seen a lot more proactive enforcement.”
DA Gorman said he didn’t know if this year was a record-setting year for drug busts in Blair County. However, he said the amount of drug sweeps was “recognition of the prevalence of drugs.”
He said the amount of busts are “to some extent, due to the efforts of the task force, now under the authority of the agent Sassano as well as all the local police support, particularly the Tyrone Police Department under Chief Beachem’s leadership.”
Task Force regional director Randy Feathers was not at the press conference, but he commented on the latest bust through the attorney general’s press release.
He said, “This is just another example of the Blair County Drug Task Force, under the leadership of agent Anthony Sassano, aggressively investigating and apprehending out of town drug dealers who prey on our communities.”
Sassano took over Feather’s duties earlier this year when Feathers moved into the regional director’s role.
In addition to the task force and Tyrone, the Altoona, Bellwood Police departments and the Blair County District Attorney’s office were involved in the latest arrests.
The following is a list of suspects and the charges against them:
• Angel Migual Diaz, 18, Brooklyn, NY-possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy endangering and the welfare of children. Bail was set at $75,000 straight;
• Daniel Antonio Galvin, 18, Brooklyn, NY- possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of children. Bail was set at $75,000 straight;
• Joshua Wade Winslow, 23, 1909 5th Ave., Altoona- possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; possession of a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children. Bail was set at $50,000, 10 percent and
• Robert Todd Pope, 26, of 1914 6th Ave., Altoona- criminal conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children. Bail of $30,000, 10 percent.
All four suspects were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Craig Ormsby. His office said preliminary hearings are scheduled at Central Court next Wednesday. The men are being held in the Blair County Prison.
Authorities said the investigation was ongoing and additional charges were pending. The suspects in the case will be prosecuted by the Blair County DA’s office.