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Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced criminal charges against 72 people for selling heroin, illegal prescription opioids, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, crack, bath salts and other drugs in Blair County – the 9th major drug sweep in the county since he took office in January 2017.
“My Office has been focused on keeping drug dealers out of communities in the Altoona region since I was sworn in as Attorney General,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “After the first sweep in this area, I promised to remain vigilant and keep coming back to prosecute people peddling this poison in Altoona and Blair Counties – and I’ve kept that commitment. We’ll continue working with our law enforcement partners to keep this region safe.”
According to Sharpiro’s office today’s charges are the result of a year-long cooperative investigation between the Office of Attorney General, Blair County Drug Task Force, Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio’s Office and the Altoona Police Department. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement made a series of approximately 80 controlled purchases utilizing undercover officers/agents.
Authorities say many of the arrests in today’s roundup were for individuals selling Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction and prevent painful withdrawal symptoms.
“Nearly half of the drug dealers arrested today were selling Suboxone. This demonstrates the use of Suboxone to either supplement or obtain heroin. Thus, the Suboxone traffic goes hand in hand with opioid addiction in this area and around the state and the county,” said Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio. “I would note that practically all of the dealers arrested today are street-level dealers. It is important that these individuals be targeted. Although most, if not all, of the narcotics suppliers normally come from out of town, these local dealers are a major component in the narcotics network that spreads this poison throughout the county.”
Please click here for a full list of the 72 individuals charged in this case.
The defendants will be preliminarily arraigned before Blair County Magisterial District Judges Fred Miller and Andrew Blatenberger and will be prosecuted by Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio’s Office.