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Two from area among those suspected in latest drug bust

Two Tyrone area citizens were among those suspected in the latest drug bust yesterday in Blair County.
Additionally, a man already behind bars awaiting justice in Cambria County in an alleged drug-related homicide was arrested on drug charges as part of the latest investigation into drug activity in Blair County.
A press release from Attorney General Tom Corbett said he and DA Richard Consiglio announced the arrests or pending arrests yesterday of more than four dozen drug dealers.
As part of the investigation, a New York City drug connection is also being probed. Agents from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and 100 local police officers were used to round up the heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana dealers operating in Blair County. AG Corbett said the arrests were part of a six-month long investigation which focused on street-level and mid-level drug dealers.
The Tyrone area suspects in yesterday’s bust are Rachael Shawn Meredith of Reed Street, Tipton and Jessica Albright of 424 Washington Ave., Tyrone. As of yesterday afternoon, Meredith was in custody and had been charged with one count of criminal conspiracy and one count delivery of heroin. A warrant had been issued for Albright. She was wanted on one count each for conspiracy, delivery and possession of heroin.
The press release noted that one of the suspected drug dealers arrested yesterday is facing murder charges in Cambria County. John Mease, 28, of Bellwood, was charged with possession and delivery of crack cocaine yesterday.
Mease currently resides in Cambria County Prison awaiting a January court date on homicide charges for the death of James Tucker of Altoona. Tucker was shot and then set on fire and left to die on a rural road near Blandburg on the night of April 27. Another suspect in that case, Torone Dixon, died last month when he was shot by prison guards in Cambria County. Damien Marcus Pierce, 31, of Altoona has also been charged in connection with Tucker’s death. Both Mease and Pierce were charged with criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, aggravated assault, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in the April killing.
A woman with ties to northern Blair County who allegedly picked up Tucker the night he was murdered was also charged in the case. Christina Theresa DeStefano was charged with criminal conspiracy to commit robbery.
Regarding yesterday’s bust, Corbett said 33 of the alleged drug dealers are from Altoona. Other local suspects are from Duncansville, Hollidaysburg and Martinsburg along with the Tyrone suspects. The AG’s press release noted the investigation resulted in criminal charges against two suspected mid-level drug dealers allegedly linked to drug trafficking from New York City into Blair County.
“We’re here today to continue to make it very clear that drug sales will not be tolerated on the streets of Altoona and other Blair County communities,” Corbett said. “Working side-by-side with local police, we will continue these drug arrests until local drug dealers and drug users understand that their criminal activity is not welcome here.”
The AG’s release said Terrell Kashawn Daniels and Tashawn Allen Davis, both from Brooklyn, New York, were already being held in the Blair County Prison following drug-related arrests by the Blair County Drug Task Force earlier this summer. Daniels was charged with possession, delivery and conspiracy to deliver crack cocaine. Davis was charged with possession, delivery and conspiracy to deliver heroin.
The press release said Corbett noted Altoona remains a focus of attention for drug suppliers from outside Central Pennsylvania, especially New York City. He explained that several of the Altoona area residents charged yesterday allegedly served as “runners” for New York based drug dealers, delivering drugs to local street-level dealers or buyers.
Tyrone Police Chief Joseph Beachem was asked about the latest bust and said, “It’s safe to say we still have a problem.” Beachem noted he is seeing some improvement as far as out-of-town or out-of-state dealers staying out of Tyrone. He said mid-level dealers, addiction and other crimes that are driven by the drug culture continue to be a concern.
Beachem said his department gets involved with busts outside the Tyrone area not only to provide manpower, but because a dealer in another part of the county could be supplying the drugs to those in Tyrone.
AG Corbett said suspects arrested yesterday had preliminary arraignments before Magisterial District Judges Todd Kelly and Joseph Moran at Blair County Central Court.
Preliminary hearings for those arrested are scheduled for Oct. 11 at Judge Kelley’s office.