HOLLIDAYSBURG – Sixteen drug dealers have been accused of operating a ring and selling 780,000 bags of heroin in Blair and Cambria counties. The heroin was worth an estimated $7.8 million and was sold over 13 months.
The ring also sold cocaine that was worth $1.9 million, according to the Attorney General’s Office. AG Josh Shapiro, Blair County District Attorney Rich Consiglio and other officials announced the charges today.
A statewide investigating grand jury identified Damon “Fat Cat” Devine, 40, of North 60th St., Philadelphia, as the primary target of the investigation by the AG’s Office, the district attorneys of Blair, Cambria and Montgomery counties, Altoona and Johnstown police, Pennsylvania State Police and the Blair and Cambria County Drug Task Forces.
“This investigation involved dealers who transported large amounts of heroin and cocaine from Philadelphia to Altoona and Johnstown,” Shapiro said at a press conference outside the Blair County Courthouse.
“Our work with District Attorney Consiglio and other state and local law enforcement agencies led to the dismantling of a major drug pipeline into Blair and Cambria counties. We will remain merciless with the dealers peddling these poisons in our communities.”
The Devine ring allegedly sold heroin that was stamped “Dragon” on the bags because it was more potent than other heroin sold in Altoona or Johnstown.
In August of 2016, Devine was a passenger in a car driven by an associate in the ring. After a series of violations, a state trooper attempted a traffic stop.
A chase ensued from Philadelphia to Montgomery County that at times exceeded 100 miles per hour. It ended in a crash.
At that time, 3,750 heroin baggies stamped “Dragon,” 127 grams of cocaine and other evidence was seized from the vehicle. Nine days after his arrest, Devine posted bail and continued to operate his drug organization, according to the AG’s Office.
Investigators made a series of controlled drug buys from Devine’s associates. Following his arrest, one agreed to cooperate with investigators and buy heroin from Devine.
During a February meeting outside an Altoona motel, Devine allegedly sold heroin to this informant, and he was arrested with 651 bags of “Dragon” heroin in his possession.
In total, investigators seized 14,890 bags of heroin with an estimated street value of nearly $150,000 during their probe, in addition to nearly half a pound of cocaine.
Based on the investigation and testimony in front of the grand jury, investigators estimated the Dragon ring sold $7.8 million in heroin and $1.9 million in cocaine and crack cocaine over 13 months from January of 2016 to February.
“These arrests will go a long way in slowing down the availability of cocaine and heroin in Blair and Cambria counties,” said Consiglio. “This is another example of law enforcement reaching higher in the food chain to cut off the supply of poison to our communities.”
Shapiro credited law enforcement collaboration with helping to take down the Dragon Heroin Pipeline.
“The District Attorneys of Blair, Cambria and Montgomery counties worked closely with our office, along with the Pennsylvania State Police and Altoona and Johnstown police,” Shapiro said. “We’re grateful to them.”
In addition to ring leader Devine, the following defendants are charged with possessing with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy and related charges:
- Aaron Beard, 50, of 19thStreet, Altoona
- Melissa Coleman, 43, of Stackhouse Street, Johnstown
- James Everett-Bey, 40, of Hunter Street, Philadelphia
- Richard Govier, 39, of West Main Street, Stoystown
- Kristy Hicks, 38, of 29thStreet, Altoona
- Kara Kirby-Horner, 35, of Campbell Avenue, Johnstown
- Blaine Jackson, 40, of Chandler Avenue, Johnstown
- Jaime Madden, 52, of Franklin Street, Johnstown
- Jasmine McGowan, 27, of Cypress Avenue, Johnstown
- James Miller, 28, of Ihmsen Avenue, Johnstown
- Jabu Robinson, 37, of West Wyneva Street, Philadelphia
- Phillip Stevens, 30, of Cherry Avenue, Altoona
- Travis Taylor, 39, of First Avenue, Altoona
- Brieon Thurston, 35, of Lenhart Street, Johnstown
- Barbara Tyler, 58, of Greenwood Avenue, Trenton, NJ