Eight alleged to have been dealing deadly drug in southern Chester County
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced Monday a series of 10 arrests this month of alleged heroin dealers, as the result of three separate investigations a year or more in the works by state, county and local law enforcement agencies.
Authorities say the alleged dealers were plying their trade in locations across Chester County from Phoenixville to southern Chester County.
The 10 alleged dealers were taken in custody in a series of arrests announced by Hogan’s office, Monday morning. All were arrested on April 12, including the eight related to an alleged southern Chester County drug operation, broken up by State Police.
Those charged as a result of the multiple investigations are: Joseph McIntosh, 31, of Philadelphia,; Westley Reed, 27, of Landenberg; Kristopher Peirson, 22, of West Grove; Kyle Kellner, 22, of London Grove; Andre Rivera, 27, of Avondale; John Anderson, 24, of Nottingham; Jose Guzman, 21, of Wilmington, Del.; William Jones, 26, of West Grove; Alejandro Guzman, 26, of Wilmington, Del.; and Jeffrey Gavin, 34, of Phoenixville.
Three individual investigations, one by the Pennsylvania State Police of alleged dealing in southern Chester County, as well as individual investigations by local police of the drug trade in East Pikeland and Phoenixville, resulted in the arrests, Hogan said, representing the results of a greater focus on heroin dealers in the county.
The growing heroin problem in the suburban portions of the county was brought into sharp focus last week with the heartbreaking story of 23-year-old Kacie Erin Rumford of Kennett Square, found dead from a heroin overdose last month in her bedroom by her parents — a warning of the recent spread of use of the drug in wealthy, suburban enclaves in Chester County.
“Chester County law enforcement is cracking down on heroin dealers,” Hogan said in a statement, Monday. “Heroin does not discriminate — from Main Line suburbs to rural locations, heroin turns kids into hard-core addicts or sends them to an early grave. We are going to keep locking up these dealers until they understand that they should stay out of Chester County.”
The arrests in southern Chester County — eight of the 10 charged this week — were the result of a lengthy undercover operation by the State Police, over more than a year. State police officials pledge to continue efforts to battle this dangerous drug trade.
“The District Attorney’s office has taken a hard line approach to fighting heroin in Chester County,” said Capt. William White, Commander of Troop J of the Pennsylvania State Police, in a statement released Monday. “They have made the arrest and prosecution of heroin dealers a priority and have without hesitation supported all law enforcement efforts. The Pennsylvania State Police are committed to working with the District Attorney’s Office to address this serious issue.”
State Police undercover officers and informants allegedly were able to purchase heroin from the dealers charged in the alleged southern Chester County ring: Peirson, Kellner, Reed, Rivera, Anderson, Jose and Alejandro Guzman (brothers from Wilmington, Del.), and Jones.
Starting in March 2012 and running operations throughout the year, State Police undercover officers allegedly were able regularly to buy dozens of bags of heroin from these dealers, including some purchases as large as 100 bags at a time. All eight were charged with delivery of heroin, criminal use of a communication facility, conspiracy, and other drug-related charges.
The Phoenixville investigation began with a death from a heroin overdose one that bears an eerie resemblance to the Kennett Square case.
After the the parents of a 22-year-old woman discovered their daughter dead in her bedroom from an apparent heroin overdose, Phoenixville Police worked to track down the person who had been dealing heroin to the woman. Police said they used a combination of interviews with friends of the victim and an investigation of telephone records to identify the alleged dealer, McIntosh from Philadelphia.
Identifying the reported dealer was one thing, but getting him into custody required some creativity by local police, according to the criminal complaint. They were able to get a friend of the deceased girl temporarily out of prison, with the idea of contacting McIntosh to set up a drug deal. Police said the friend had also previously purchased heroin from McIntosh on prior occasions — and was able to get the accused to meet for a buy at a 7-11 convenience store in Phoenixville last month.
But when McIntosh pulled up to the convenience store on April 12, police were waiting for him. He allegedly tried to flee, but was immediately captured. Police said that McIntosh had more than an ounce of heroin with him — which amounts to thousands of doses of the drug. Police said he also was carrying a scale, cash, and packaging material, which they said are all consistent with drug dealing.
McIntosh was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and other related charges.
In East Pikeland, police were tipped off about possible drug activities near Hares Hill Road in March. Following up, police searched the trash at the residence in question — located at 37 Ruth Avenue — and reportedly found packaging consistent with heroin distribution as well as a small amount of a white powdery substance which later tested positive as heroin, police said.
Based on that evidence, police were able to get a search warrant for the residence. Police reportedly found heroin packets on Gavin’s person and reportedly upon further searching found additional bundles of pre-packaged heroin, stamped with the label “trick or treat.” Gavin was charged with possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and other related offenses.
Hogan said Monday, these arrests should further highlight the dangers of heroin to the young people of Chester County. “Every parent across Chester County needs to be vigilant to the dangers of heroin,” Hogan said. “Heroin addiction can lead to death or a lifetime of misery. Protect your kids from this poison.”
According to statistics provided by the Chester County Coroner’s Office, 34 deaths in 2012 in Chester County happened when the deceased had heroin in his or her system. Nine of those deaths occurred in in the final two months of the year, marking an apparent an upward trend that has been noted by Chester County and state law enforcement officials.
The investigations were conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police, Phoenixville Police Department, East Pikeland Police Department, Oxford Police Department, Tredyffrin Police Department, Kennett Square Police Department, New Garden Police Department, Chester County Municipal Drug Task Force, Chester County Detectives, and the Chester County District Attorney’s Drug Unit.
Prosecutors Steve Kelly and Chris deBarrena-Sarobe have been assigned to prosecute these cases.