Drug bust nabs many from Tyrone

About three dozen drug suspects were arrested or were in the process of being arrested yesterday as a result of an 11-month investigation into drug activity in Blair County.
About half of the suspects are from the Tyrone area including two juveniles. The investigation also led to the arrests of three people from the Brooklyn, NY area. Authorities said those suspects are upper level dealers and had been previously arrested on other drug charges. Demetrius Morris, Gilbert Pagan and Tashawn Davis were already in Blair County Prison at the time of yesterday’s drug bust.
Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio and other law enforcement officials appeared in Tyrone for a press conference yesterday. Consiglio noted the Blair County Drug Hotline played a role in the investigation.
“We want to thank the citizens of Blair County,” said Consiglio. “Most, if not all of these cases, have some involvement with information being received from the Blair County Drug Hotline.”
DA Consiglio mentioned the numbers for the hotline during the press conference. The regular number is 814-693-3020. A toll-free number can be used for residents who live north of Tipton. That number is 1-866-693-3020.
Consiglio also commended the law enforcement agencies involved in the drug bust including the Tyrone and Bellwood police departments. The resources of the Attorney General’s office and its Blair County Drug Task Force were also used in the operation. DA Consiglio said many of the arrests involved heroin and crack cocaine.
“We are trying to take out these street dealers and of course we are trying to out these out-of-town people,” said Consiglio.
Drug Task Force agent Anthony Sassano said he is often asked why there is a big drug problem in Tyrone.
Agent Sassano said, “Tyrone doesn’t have a bigger drug problem than anywhere else in the county, it’s just that these (officers) in Tyrone (and) Bellwood address the problem and are making arrests. They are very active in the Drug Task Force.”
Sassano called the alleged New York drug dealers “domestic drug terrorists.”
He said, “they are bringing these drugs down here at an extremely high volume and affecting the quality of life here in Blair County.”
Tyrone Police Chief Joseph Beachem echoed Sassano’s comments.
“I don’t think it’s any worse here than anywhere else but we do try to stay very active,” said Beachem. “Obviously with the drugs come a lot of other crimes. So, that’s why we want to attack the dealers of the drugs. The drugs cause the burglaries and the robberies.”
DA Consiglio added, “We want the people in the northern end of the county to know that we are supporting them 100 percent to rid the area of this poison.”
Agent Sassano said the main reason the dealers from New York are coming into this area is money. He explained the dealers can get eight times the value for drugs in Blair County compared to the going rate in New York City. He said the problem has to be attacked at three levels: education, prevention and law enforcement.
Sassano said the latest bust was the third in Blair County since late September. About 100 people have been arrested in the three drug busts. DA Consiglio noted 29 out-of-state drug dealers have been arrested since the beginning of the year.
Those arrested yesterday were taken to the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory for processing and then to Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller’s office for an initial arraignment.