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Pennsylvania authorities dismantle drug distribution ring, arrest over four dozen suspects

March 10, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Pennsylvania authorities dismantle drug distribution ring, arrest over four dozen suspects

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A two-year drug probe has concluded with over four dozen arrests and the bust of a massive drug distribution ring responsible for trafficking meth, heroin, and cocaine throughout the country.

Officers in Chester County, Pennsylvania arrested 49 people for their role in the drug ring, which spanned across the U.S. from the Delaware Valley to Arizona and Puerto Rico. The majority of the meth used in the group came from Arizona because of easy access to labs in Mexico, which manufacture the most potent product, ABC 6 reported.

The arrests were the outcome of a two-year joint investigation by the Chester County Detectives and Pennsylvania State Police titled “Operation Crushed Ice.” Authorities confiscated undisclosed quantities of meth, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills during a series of raids carried out in January. They also seized approximately 40 firearms, over 20 cars, scales, and packaging materials.

“Drug dealers are like a virus,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said to the Philly Voice. “They shift and mutate, finding new ways to avoid detection and cause harm. Law enforcement constantly works to stay one step ahead.”

The leader of the drug distribution ring, 27-year-old Richard Maitre, initially raised suspicion when he started selling drugs from prison in 2015. Authorities determined that the group received shipments through ground and air transport after wiretapping Maitre’s phone. Investigators also discovered that Maitre encouraged violence within the group, ordering several co-conspirators to severely beat a dealer after he missed a payment.

“The activities of this [operation] had a far-reaching impact on many lives,” Pennsylvania State Police Captain Maurice Tomlinson said. “Law enforcement cooperation was an integral factor in this being successful. Agencies from around the country, county, and state worked to bring Maitre’s reign in Chester County to an end.”

Officials throughout the U.S. are fighting higher rates of drug trafficking, which is being driven by the national demand for opioids. Opioids took a record number of lives in 2015, exceeding deaths in auto accidents and contributing to the first decrease in U.S. life expectancy since 1993. Whether heroin or painkillers, opioids now account for about 63% of drug fatalities.

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