Chester County’s heroin trade suffered a major blow this week as law enforcement officials announced a coordinated crackdown on suspected dealers across the area.
The Chester County District Attorney’s Office Monday announced the arrest of ten suspected heroin dealers for drug dealing in municipalities across the county. Officials said the arrests came as a result of a multi-agency investigation over the last year. Investigators identified drug dealing activity in Phoenixville, East Pikeland, West Goshen, New Garden, Avondale and other locations in the county.
Officials said the crackdown was aimed at reducing the deadly impact of heroin on the area’s young people.
“Chester County law enforcement is cracking down on heroin dealers,” said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan. “Heroin does not discriminate. From Main Line suburbs to rural locations, heroin turns kids into hard-core addicts or sends them to an early grave. We are going to keep locking up these dealers until they understand that they should stay out of Chester County.”
The suspects were identified as Joseph McIntosh, 31, of Philadelphia; Westley Reed, 27, of Landenberg; Kristopher Peirson, 22, of West Grove; Kyle Kellner, 22, of London Grove; Andre Rivera, 27, of Avondale; John Anderson, 24, of Nottingham; Jose Guzman, 21, of Wilmington, Del.; William Jones, 26, of West Grove; Alejandro Guzman, 26, of Wilmington, Del.; and Jeffrey Gavin, 34, of Phoenixville.
The arrests came after municipal police departments, county law enforcement and state police cooperated to identify drug-dealing activity and crack down on suspected dealers. The announcement came after the conclusion of several separate investigations.
In Phoenixville, the probe began after the parents of a 22-year-old woman found their daughter dead in her bedroom. The victim had a history of heroin addiction, and her death was ruled an overdose after heroin paraphernalia was found around her body, officials said.
An investigation into the death eventually narrowed to McIntosh, who police suspected as the deceased woman’s dealer. One of the victim’s friends was temporarily pulled from prison to set up a buy, as police said she had purchased heroin from McIntosh in the past. Investigators set up a purchase on March 12 at a Phoenixville convenience store, and when McIntosh showed up police were waiting.
Investigators said McIntosh attempted to flee but was quickly caught. According to police, McIntosh was carrying the equivalent of thousands of doses of heroin when he was arrested. He also had a scale, cash and packing material, police said.
In East Pikeland, Gavin was arrested after police received a tip concerning possible drug dealing activity inside his home on Ruth Lane. Investigators from the East Pikeland Police Department and the Chester County Municipal Drug Task Force obtained a search warrant for the home and found 28 bundles (ten bags) of heroin inside, officials said.
An undercover state police operation netted the arrest of eight more suspected drug dealers, mostly from the southern areas of Chester County. Police said that starting in March 2012, undercover officers routinely purchased dozens of bags of heroin from the dealers, at times purchasing more than 100 bags in one meeting. Peirson, Kellner, Reed, Rivera, Anderson and brothers Jose and Alejandro Guzman were arrested as a result of the state police operation.
State police said the operation was designed to take an aggressive stance against the dangerous drug.
“The District Attorney’s Office has taken a hard-line approach to fighting heroin in Chester County,” said Capt. William White, commander of Pennsylvania State Police Troop J. “They have made the arrest and prosecution of heroin dealers a priority and have without hesitation supported all law enforcement efforts. The Pennsylvania State Police are committed to working with the District Attorney’s Office to address this serious issue.”
Law enforcement officials cited statistics from the Chester County Coroner’s Office to warn against the dangers of heroin. According to the coroner, there were 34 deaths in Chester County in 2012 in which medical examiners found heroin in the bodies of the deceased. Nine of those deaths occurred in the final two months of the year, and officials said it was a somber confirmation that the use of heroin has been trending upward in the area.
“Every parent across Chester County needs to be vigilant to the dangers of heroin,” Hogan said. “Heroin addiction can lead to death or a lifetime of misery. Protect your kids from this poison.
The investigations were conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police; the Phoenixville, East Pikeland, Oxford, Tredyffrin, Kennett Square and New Garden police departments; the Chester County Municipal Drug Task Force; and the District Attorney’s Drug Unit.
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