BROOKVILLE – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced criminal charges against 30 drug dealers in connection with the shipment and sale of $1.6 million in crystal methamphetamine in Jefferson, Clarion, Clearfield, Elk and Forest counties over the last year and a half.
The crystal meth was allegedly shipped to Jefferson County and the surrounding area through the U.S. mail from drug dealers in Arizona and California. It was then allegedly sold throughout north-central Pennsylvania by a network of 30 drug dealers.
The 35 pounds of crystal meth that dealers sold – which was broken up into quarter- and half-gram doses – produced between 32,000 and 64,000 doses of the drug that were sold in the five north-central Pennsylvania counties.
“When drug traffickers from other states target rural Pennsylvania, our agents will be right here to catch them and shut these networks down,” Shapiro said today at a news conference at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
“Today’s arrests show how we’re working hand-in-hand with local, state and federal authorities to help every town get what it needs to take on dangerous drug dealers and keep our communities safe.”
Shapiro also commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service worked closely with the Office of Attorney General, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office on this 18-month-long investigation.
“Here in Pennsylvania we’re not going to let crystal meth go unchecked, not in Jefferson County and not in any part of the northern tier,” Shapiro vowed. “To the people of Jefferson County and surrounding areas, we hear you, and we’re pursuing these dealers peddling their poison wherever we find them.”
Most of the crystal meth shipments into north-central Pennsylvania were allegedly through Larry Dean, 58, who maintained residences in Mayport, Pa., and Tucson, Ariz.
A willing recipient – and seller – of the crystal meth, which Dean was mailing, was allegedly Dale Hanlin, 66, of Cooksburg, Pa.
Hanlin and other drug dealers charged today had a group of loosely connected dealers standing by to sell the drugs once they got to north-central Pennsylvania, investigators said.
Investigators used a series of controlled purchases, court-approved electronic surveillance, package interceptions and other tactics to identify the drug dealers involved.
“We have been battling the crystal methamphetamine scourge for several years and this collaborative investigation with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and the Jefferson County District Attorney has allowed us to make the citizens of Pennsylvania safer,” said Lieutenant Christopher J. Neal of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop C in Punxsutawney.
In addition to the state police, Postal Inspectors and OAG’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, Shapiro thanked numerous local law enforcement partners.
“We thank the police departments of Brockway Borough, Brookville Borough, Clarion Borough, DuBois City, New Bethlehem, Sandy Township and St. Mary’s for their work,” he said.
The attorney general also thanked the District Attorneys of Jefferson County, Clarion County and Clearfield County for their assistance, as well.
“This investigation is an example of what great things happen when different outstanding law enforcement agencies collaborate and work together,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett at today’s press conference.
“Today, we have delivered a major blow to methamphetamine trafficking in this region. I want to thank Attorney General Shapiro and all the dedicated officers who put their heart and soul into this endeavor.”
Charged with conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver drugs and corrupt organizations are:
- Joshua Carson, 32, of Victorville, Calif.
- Eric Clark, 38, of Brockway
- Larry Dean, 58, of Mayport
- Destiny Douglas, 21, of DuBois
- Anthony Dubeck, 57, of DuBois
- Angela Gilbert, 20, of DuBois
- Patrick Groves, 36, of Reynoldsville
- Jeanne Gouldthread, 34, of DuBois
- Dale Hanlin, 66, of Cooksburg
- Tracy Harmon, 56, Mayport
- Daniel Hopkins, 50, Tucson, Ariz.
- Deren Issler, 51, of Brockway
- Christina Kinder, 43, of DuBois
- Joseph Kot, Sr., 38, of DuBois
- Matthew McKinley, 47, of Brookville
- Sasha Messina, 27, of Shippenville
- Marc Panzer, 35, of Brookville
- Brian Pentz, 31, of DuBois
- Meredith Pisoni, 38, of Brockway
- Shane Porrin, 32, of DuBois
- Sonya Pritchard, 52, of Bakersfield, Calif.
- Brittney Royer, 27, Clearfield
- Renea Sherwood, 20, DuBois
- Mikelle Shetley, 32, of DuBois
- Tammy Smiley, 51, Falls Creek
- Mason Solida, 41, Brookville
- Kari Stoneberg, 40, DuBois
- George Watson, 50, Luthersburg
- Matthew Watson, 30, Luthersburg
- Michael Wolfgang, 27, Sigel
Cases will be prosecuted in Jefferson County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Marnie Sheehan-Balchon and Burkett, who has been appointed a Special Deputy Attorney General in this investigation.
Since taking office in January, Shapiro’s office has:
- Arrested 844 drug dealers – an average of three per day.
- Doubled the number of medical diversion arrests (doctors and nurses) from 2016.
- Partnered with law enforcement to destroy more than 29 tons of drugs.
- Distributed 300,000 drug disposal pouches in 17 counties in Pennsylvania.
- Worked with the insurance industry to expand access to drug treatment.
- Helped lead a national, bipartisan investigation into the marketing and sales of prescription pain-killer medications by pharmaceutical companies.