Police: Large-scale cocaine dealers busted in York, Reading

Liz Evans Scolforo

Two Berks County men who allegedly trafficked large amounts of cocaine in York County and in the Reading area were getting their supply straight from Mexico, according to York City Detective First Class Andrew Shaffer.

Police said they seized more than $400,000 of cocaine when they arrested two alleged drug dealers on April 27, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of York City Police)

"It doesn't get any bigger ... in this part of the state," he said. "These two were at the top."

Arrested were Ruben Morales, 23, of Mulberry Street in Reading and Jose Avila, 27, of Buttonwood Street, also in Reading, according to Shaffer.

Over the past three months, Morales allegedly sold more than a million dollars worth of cocaine in the York and Reading areas, mostly in Reading, Shaffer said, which translates to about 16 to 18 pounds moved in three months.

A lot of crack: "That's a lot of crack," Shaffer acknowledged. "He was getting approximately one to two kilos a week from from Jose Avila. ... Morales wasn't selling small amounts here. He was selling to large-scale dealers."

And Avila had a connection straight to the source, according to the detective.

"My belief is — and we have the facts to show — that Jose Avila was getting his drugs straight from Mexico," Shaffer said. It's believed Morales and Avila have been working together to distribute drugs for at least a year, the detective alleges.

Police said a number of handguns and assault rifles were seized from the Reading home of Jose Avila at the close of a three-month joint investigation begun by York City Police.
(Photo courtesy of York City Police)

The investigation into the men began about three months ago when longtime York City drug Detective Scott Nadzom identified them as potential dealers, according to Shaffer.

York City detectives reached out the Drug Enforcement Administration officials in Harrisburg and Allentown, who worked with them to investigate the men, and Berks County detectives also got involved, Shaffer said. Police in Reading, West York and Hellam Township assisted as well, he said.

Shaffer said he expects more arrests will be made.

'Hung his head': Morales was arrested at a convenience store just off Route 30 in Wrightsville, where he intended to deliver more than a pound of cocaine to someone, the detective said.

Instead, he was met by law enforcement, who seized that cocaine and took Morales into custody, according to the detective.

"He didn't ask why he was being arrested," Shaffer said. "He just hung his head and didn't say a word."

Ruben Morales

Avila was arrested the same day in his home, and authorities searched both men's homes and seized cocaine and firearms, according to the detective.

"We seized over $50,000 and over two pounds of cocaine at Avila's house," Shaffer said, plus about $20,000 at Morales' home.

Guns, ammo: Also seized at Avila's house were two assault rifles — an AK-47 and an AR-15 — and four handguns, thousands of rounds of ammunition and two electronic money counters similar to the ones used by banks, according to Shaffer.

"The normal person doesn't have these counters," he said. "There's no money counters at the Shaffer house, that's for sure."

Morales remains in York County Prison on $75,000 bail and a state parole violation detainer, according to prison records.

It is unclear whether Avila is being held in Berks County Prison or whether he's posted bail. It's also unclear whether either man has retained an attorney.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at