Pubdate: Tue, 30 Aug 2005
Source: Patriot-News, The (PA)
Copyright: 2005 The Patriot-News
Author: Theodore Decker
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


Drug Raids Stem From Probe Of Overdose

In Harrisburg's Hall Manor housing project, dealers were using code words 
and cryptic hand symbols to direct junkies to the different brands of 
heroin for sale.

That heroin flowed to the city from New York and New Jersey by train or car 
- -- sometimes hidden inside children's stuffed animals.

Hall Manor had become a local hotbed for heroin. Its reputation spread to 
rural Mifflin County and suburban Derry Twp. In Derry Twp., a 15-year-old 
survived an overdose on the drug.

Law enforcement agencies agreed something had to be done.

An operation spanning eight months led to highly coordinated raids Thursday 
and indictments of 29 people on federal charges accusing them of 
trafficking heroin.

Eight more people are accused of allowing their Hall Manor apartments to be 
used in drug trafficking, an offense that could carry the same punishment 
faced by the suspects they are accused of harboring: up to 20 years in 
federal prison.

Federal marshals are seeking two indicted fugitives, Juan Abreu, 46, and 
Jorge Reyes, 27, U.S. Marshal Michael Regan said.

Another 16 people were arrested on state charges in what police called 
collateral arrests. Searches yielded up to $20,000 cash and $1,500 in drugs.

"It's anticipated that this major enforcement operation will significantly 
reduce the flow of heroin and other illegal drugs into the Hall Manor 
housing project," said Richard Ford, a federal Drug Enforcement Agency 
assistant special agent in charge.

"We realized early on that this was not just a Harrisburg problem or a Hall 
Manor problem," said Michael Consiglio, a Dauphin County prosecutor.

Authorities called the probe a collaborative one that relied upon myriad 
agencies, among them federal housing agents and undercover vice cops, to 
pull the case together.

Thomas A. Marino, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of 
Pennsylvania, said dealers should take the increasing federal scrutiny as a 
warning to get out of town.

"Look over your shoulder no matter what you do, and sleep with one eye 
open," he said. "These charges underscore a simple truth. Public housing 
will not be used as a site for drug trafficking."

Consiglio said strong undercover work, especially by city police, produced 
tip after tip that showed how widespread the heroin dealing had become in 
Hall Manor.

Historically, the neighborhood surrounding 13th and Derry streets was the 
most common source of heroin in Harrisburg, but the recent investigation 
revealed the shift to Hall Manor, Consiglio said. Tips such as the use of 
stuffed animals in smuggling were corroborated as the probe snowballed, he 

"Our efforts today are an important first step in winning back Hall Manor 
for law-abiding men and women who live in that community," Marino said.

Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed called the involvement of federal 
authorities heartening because the potential penalties often are far more 
severe than state sentences. "They don't play," Reed said.
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MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman