By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
SHAMOKIN — At least nine Valley residents were arrested Thursday as authorities busted an international narcotics ring in which drug mules were paid $10,000 to swallow balloons filled with large amounts of cocaine and heroin and transport the dope to the United States.
The 16-person drug sweep initiated by the state attorney general’s office saw many suspects arraigned before Shamokin District Judge John Gembic.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said the investigation began in the summer of 2012 and focused on an international trafficking organization that stretched from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to New York City, then on to Luzerne and Northumberland counties.
Juan Carlos Alvarez, of the Dominican Republic, supplied users and dealers in Northumberland County with bulk quantities of heroin and cocaine since at least 2008, Kane said.
Agents estimate that during the course of the investigation, the drug ring was responsible for distributing at least $2 million worth of narcotics, Kane said.
Among those arrested were Shamokin residents Jarred Derck, 29, Konrad Kehler, 24, and Kinda Yost, 25; Coal Township residents Jordan Scicchitano, 19, Harry Reed, 36, Lucas Krankowski, 34, and Foster Renn III, 23; Wade Smink, 38, of Kulpmont, and Kyle Fabain, 22, of Paxinos.
Police are searching for Coal Township residents Kevin Eltringham, 30, and Robyn Russo, 24.
A grand jury identified Derck as one of Alvarez’s main associates, Kane said. Some in the organization flew to the Dominican Republic to meet with cocaine and heroin suppliers, Kane said.
During those visits, group members were allegedly hired to be drug mules and paid $10,000 to swallow balloons filled with cocaine and heroin that was then transported to New York City via international airlines, Kane said.
The drugs were then dispensed in New York City and throughout Northumberland County, Kane said.
Police set up a series of undercover purchases for ounces of cocaine and hundreds of bags of heroin, Kane said. Through the purchases, agents said they were able to determine the Northumberland County residents.
A grand jury found that Valley distributors obtained hundreds of bags of heroin a week and redistributed the drugs out of an Elysburg pizza shop, a garage in Shamokin owned by Yost, and a residence in Mount Carmel that was used as a stash house, Kane said.
Kane thanked the Drug Enforcement Agency and police departments from Shamokin, Coal Township, Mount Carmel, Hazleton and Ralpho Township for their assistance in the investigations. Kane said there will be more arrests to come and the probe continues. The case will be prosecuted in Northumberland County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard, Kane said.
Among those arrested Thursday on suspected drug charges
- Juan Carlos Alvarez, committed to Lackawanna County Prison, in lieu of $200,000 cash
- Jarred Derck was incarcerated in Northumberland County Prison and an additional $25,000 cash bail was set
- Darryl Elliot, of Wilkes-Barre, is wanted
- Jordan Detalente, incarcerated in Northumberland County Prison on $20,000 bail, was released. Bail supervision
- Jordan Scicchitano, $50,000 cash bail, committed to Northumberland County Prison
- Harry Reed, $20,000 posted. Bail supervision
- Joseph Galgocy, is wanted
- Kinda Yost, $75,000 cash bail. Committed to Northumberland County Prison
- Kevin Eltringham, is wanted
- Wade Smink, $20,000 bail posted. Bail supervision.
- Robyn Russo, is wanted
- Foster Renn III, $50,000 cash bail. Committed to Northumberland County Prison
- Kyle Fabian, $50,0000 cash bail. Committed to Northumberland County Prison
- Konrad Kehler, $50,000 cash bail. Committed to Northumberland County Prison
- Amber Zwolinski, $50,000 cash bail. Committed to Northumberland County Prison
- Lucas Krankowski, $50,000 cash bail. Committed to Northumberland County Prison