The Lancaster County Drug Task Force interrupted a major movement of fentanyl and heroin with the recent arrests of three Philadelphians in Manheim Township.
The Task Force seized nearly three pounds of heroin – in bundles ready for street sale and in bulk form – during a Jan. 31 operation in the 1300 block of Lititz Pike.
The bulk kilogram (about 2 pounds) tested positive as pure fentanyl.
Under the spotlight and assistance of a National Guard helicopter, Drug Task Force detectives boxed in a pair of vehicles involved in the drug movement and arrested everyone inside the vehicles.
One of the drivers, 26-year-old Eric Moran, attempted to flee, nearly striking detectives and other civilians in a parking lot where the deal took place.
The Task Force had information that a major movement of heroin would be happening that night, so they were set up and ready when the two suspect vehicles pulled into the parking lot.
In addition to Moran, two others were charged: Luis C. Mercado, 32, and Katherine Joubert, 27.
All three are at Lancaster County Prison on $2 million bail apiece. They are presumed innocent.
Each is charged with felony possession with intent to deliver (fentanyl) and conspiracy. Moran is also charged with misdemeanor counts of fleeing police and reckless endangerment.
Assistant District Attorney Jared Hinsey approved the charges.
The kilogram fentanyl seizure is believed to be the Drug Task Force’s largest – of pure fentanyl - in recent history.
“There is no telling how many people could have been killed by the deadly poisons that are now in police custody rather than on the streets,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Tuesday. “This could be one of the biggest fentanyl seizures we’ve had in this county.
“The distribution would have been widespread and extremely profitable for the traffickers.”
If all the heroin/fentanyl was sold in street quantities (bags or bundles of 10 baggies), its value could have exceeded half a million dollars, detectives estimated.
Detectives had the seized kilogram tested and determined it contained pure fentanyl. About 9,800 bags were branded with a “CATCH UP” stamp. Those bags tested positive for heroin and, detectives believe, will also test positive for fentanyl.
The Pennsylvania Counterdrug Joint Task Force, deploying the helicopter, kept watch over the scene as the arrests had potential to be problematic, considering the amount of anticipated drug weight.
“All the proper preparations were made here in what was a collaborative roadblock of drug traffickers,” DA Stedman said.
The investigation is ongoing: Additional searches were conducted since the arrests as well as other investigative work related to the Philadelphia connection.
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