Centre County drug bust nets several suspected heroin dealers

cpassante@centredaily.comFebruary 6, 2014 

— Several suspected heroin dealers were arrested Thursday morning after a two-year investigation primarily in Centre County.

In March 2012, agents from the state Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and local police began the investigation, which focused on trafficking large amounts of heroin throughout Centre County, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

On Thursday, several suspects were charged at the bureau’s office in Patton Township. Others had already been charged and incarcerated and two suspects have not been apprehended.

Theophilus Baldwin, 36, was charged with four counts of possession with intent to deliver heroin and oxycodone, three counts of delivery of heroin, two counts of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He is being held at the Centre County Correctional Facility.

Mandy Mabry, 38, of Lock Haven, was charged with one count of delivery of heroin, one count of possession with intent to deliver heroin, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

Amanda Cain, 29, of Howard, was charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver heroin, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

Cain and Mabry were released on $10,000 unsecured bail, police documents show.

Dwayne Mays, 27, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands in Somerset County, was charged with one count of delivery of heroin, one count of possession with intent to deliver, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

Harvey Edwards, 37, of Williamsport, was charged with two counts of delivery of heroin, one count of possession with intent to deliver, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. Edwards’ bail was set at $25,000. It was unclear whether he was able to post that amount.

Douglas Cowher, 40, of Woodward, was charged with one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. Cowher was released on $10,000 unsecured bail.

Chad Solt, 39, of Pennsylvania Furnace, was charged with three counts of delivery of Percocet, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. Solt had not been arraigned as of Thursday.

Chelcie Styers, 20, of Blanchard, was charged with three counts of delivery of marijuana, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. Styers’ was unable to post $20,000 bail, according to police documents.

Bryon Jacobs, 25, and Aaron Harris, 30, both of Philadelphia, have not yet been taken into custody, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Jacobs will be charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver heroin, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

Harris faces two counts of delivery of heroin, one count of possession with intent to deliver, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

“Harris is out and about in Philly,” said Anthony Sassano, the regional director for the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation. “They tried serving him this morning and didn’t get him.”

Sassano said agents will continue to pursue Harris and work with agents and police in Philadelphia. Jacobs was thought to be in the Williamsport area; Harris also has ties to Williamsport, Sassano said.

Harris has on his record robbery, burglary, assault, firearms and drug deliveries, and Sassano called both men “dangerous.”

Agents discovered that a New York heroin and cocaine source in Pleasant Gap was using local people to make deliveries, primarily in the Centre Region and in Williamsport, Sassano said. The charges were recommended as a result of a grand jury investigation.

Agents used court-authorized wire taps and discovered that suspected local users and dealers were also getting heroin from Philadelphia and Williamsport, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

The agents cracked codes the suspects used to describe the drugs: “up” for cocaine, “down” for heroin and “bun” or “bunny rabbit” for a bundle — 10 bags — of heroin, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Sassano said the heroin in the bust of these “midlevel” dealers wasn’t related to a recent string of heroin-related deaths in the western part of the state.

“We’ve not seen (Fentanyl-laced heroin) out here in Centre County,” he said. “From what we know, it’s primarily out west.

“There are overdoses and fatal overdoses … but none are tied to here,” he said.

The bust was part of a larger operation that is expected to continue with more arrests, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“They are coming here to distribute here,” Sassano said. “There is a heroin problem here in Centre County, just like ... other places.”

Sassano said Thursday’s bust “made a dent” in the local heroin trafficking. But, he said, Penn State students are not to blame for bringing heroin to Centre County.

“We’re finding there are more of them, but you can’t blame this on college students,” he said. “Heroin isn’t the kind of drug that you can take and perform at high levels. You can’t go to school, study and take heroin.

“It’s not the college kids.”

Sassano said the investigation was connected to a drug bust in March 2013, in which dealers set up shop in a Pleasant Gap neighborhood. He said police used phone taps to listen in on conversations.

During that bust, Sassano said, agents found weapons, including semi-automatic weapons.

“That was a significant hit there,” he said.

Thursday’s arrests included no guns or other weapons, Sassano said.

The Lycoming County Drug Task Force and police departments from State College, Bellefonte and Patton, Ferguson and Spring townships participated in the investigations.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard will prosecute the cases. At least three of the locally arrested suspects, Cain, Cowher and Mabry, were arraigned at District Judge Carmine Prestia’s office Thursday morning. Officials said they were released on unsecured bond and are scheduled for preliminary hearings Feb. 19.

Lori Falce contributed to this report. Follow Christopher Passante on Twitter @ChrisPassanteCDT.

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