AG: Police pinch major heroin pipeline between York, Altoona
Two York City men were the ringleaders of a major heroin pipeline between New York City, York and Altoona that has been shut down, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
"This began ... as a relatively minor case," Shapiro said at a Monday-afternoon news conference in York City Hall. But a yearlong grand jury investigation uncovered the full scope of the trafficking operation, which distributed about $5 million in heroin in York and Blair counties over a two-year period and culminated in charges being filed against 15 people, the AG said.
"We will do everything we can to rid our community of this poison," Shapiro said. "We will take this fight wherever it needs to go. ... We've got a lot left to do."
He said that includes the streets, doctors offices and even pharmaceutical companies that are "creating addicts" by overprescribing opioids.
Shapiro identified the ringleaders as Wayne Davis, 36, of the 500 block of Girard Avenue, and Lawrence Francis, 39, of the 300 block of East King Street.
Francis is in Blair County Prison on $1 million bail, and Davis is still being sought by authorities, Shapiro said.
On the radar: York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said there was "a lot of cooperation" between law-enforcement agencies during the probe. He confirmed Davis and Francis were known to police in York County.
"They've been on the radar for a long time," Kearney said.
State police started making controlled drug buys from Davis and Francis, according to the AG's office, which said the men at times used a property in York as a heroin stash house.
The two men were shifting their operation to Blair County, where members of the Blair County Drug Task Force started buying heroin from Terron Miller, 30, of Altoona, as well as other dealers, according to the AG's office.
Investigators learned Davis and Francis supplied Miller and others with heroin and also learned the two alleged ringleaders were recruiting people in Altoona to help them stash the drugs and to sell them on the streets, according to the AG's office.
In the past two years, Davis and Francis were responsible for moving about 15,000 "bricks" of heroin with an estimated street value of $5 million from New York City to York and then to Altoona, according to the attorney general's office. There are 10 bags of heroin in a bundle, and 50 bags of heroin in a brick.
Shapiro said that's 750,000 bags of heroin in a two-year period.
The men also were responsible for trafficking ecstasy between the two cities, according to the AG's office.
"Francis and Davis directed all of this trafficking," Shapiro said.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 10 of the 15 people being charged were in custody, according to Shapiro, who said he expects the others to be arrested quickly.
'Corrupt' organization: Davis, known as "New York," and Francis, known as "Shake," are charged with delivery of a controlled substance, corrupt organizations, conspiracy to engage in a corrupt organization, criminal conspiracy dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and using a computer to further a crime. Francis additionally is charged with being a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Miller, known as "Pimp," is being held at the state prison in Camp Hill and is charged with delivery of a controlled substance, corrupt organizations, conspiracy to engage in a corrupt organization, criminal conspiracy, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and using a computer to further a crime.
Davis and Francis generally paid women $200 a trip to ferry heroin monthly from New York City to York, according to the men's grand jury presentment.
Some of the people Davis and Francis had selling drugs for them were themselves addicts who were dealing to support their own habits, according to the presentment.
Others charged: Two other York City residents are charged with drug and related offenses — Katrina Leonard, 42, of the first block of North Tremont Street, and Byron Handy, 68, of the 200 block of West College Avenue, officials said.
Also facing drug-dealing and related charges are:
- Bernard Stoney, 34, of Breckenridge Street in Gettysburg
- Rachelle Keith, 27, of Wilkes-Barre
- Nathan Foor, 30, of Bellwood
- Stephanie Duffield, 56, of Duncansville
- Holly Burroughs, 32, of Altoona
- Travis Taylor, 38, of Altoona
- Joanne Helsel, 33, of Altoona
- Miranda McCulley, 20, of Altoona
- Courtney Gority, 33, of Altoona
- Kylene Schneider, 38, of Duncansville.
Anyone with information on Davis' whereabouts can call 814-863-6503.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.