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Eight facing charges after 'drive-through' heroin market busted

April 20, 2001

Eight facing charges after 'drive-through' heroin market busted



By JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

A heroin bust Thursday night in the parking lot of the former Wal-Mart store broke up what was described by police as a mobile "drive-through" operation.

Eight people face drug-related charges as a result of the joint operation between the Washington County Narcotics Task Force and the Franklin County, Pa., Narcotics Task Force.

Bonnie Lea Whittington, 19, of 1214 Royal Crest Drive in Martinsburg, W.Va., was charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, possession with the intent to distribute heroin and two counts of possession of heroin, police said.

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Whittington was released from the Washington County Detention Center Friday night on $50,000 bond.

Michael Lee White, 38, of 2505 Charles Town Road in Martinsburg, was charged with distribution of heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to distribute heroin, possession of heroin and possession of marijuana, according to charging documents in Washington County District Court.

White was being held at the detention center Friday night on $80,000 bond.

An informant told police Whittington had been meeting regular customers, most from Franklin County, in parking lots at the former Wal-Mart on Wesel Boulevard, near Borders Books at the Centre of Hagerstown and at Tops Buffet north of Hagerstown, according to charging documents.

Police said heroin arrests and seizures by Pennsylvania police may have put pressure on dealers to cross state lines, then tell clients to meet them in Maryland.

"This group was operating out of Pennsylvania, but was coming down to Maryland to set up business," said Sgt. Rick Johnson, director of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force.

Johnson compared the operation Thursday night to a "drive-through," with customers driving up to buy heroin in the parking lot.

Approximately 40 small vials of suspected heroin were recovered. They have a purchase price in Hagerstown of $25 per vial, Johnson said.

An undercover officer and an informant went to the Wesel Boulevard parking lot Thursday night after arranging to meet and buy heroin from a suspected seller, court records state.

While they were waiting, four other vehicles with Pennsylvania tags pulled up, with some of the occupants identified by the informant as heroin addicts and regular customers, court records state.

At 6:16 p.m. a black Ford Focus pulled into the lot and the driver, a woman, got out and gave the informant four vials of suspected heroin for $100, court records state.

The woman then went back to the Ford and exchanged items with a man in the front passenger seat, court records state. Later, the man was searched and the $100 from the informant was found in his pocket.

The woman made an exchange at another vehicle before being arrested, court records state.

The heroin is believed to have been purchased in Baltimore, where a small vial costs $10 and is sold locally for $25, the Franklin County Narcotics Task Force said.

While a Pennsylvania police officer said he didn't believe Thursday's drug deal was part of a larger heroin ring, local police said they will remain vigilant.

"We're seeing heroin show up north of here and south of here. We don't know how long we can keep it out of here," said Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith.

"We're going to be vigilant. If we develop any significant number of heroin addicts in Hagerstown, then crime is going to go up. Heroin addicts steal to support their habit," Smith said.

The joint operation resulted in six other arrests, according to police and court records.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Earl Price, 35, of 4102 Edmonson Ave. in Baltimore was charged with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. Price was a passenger in the Ford Focus. Price was being held at the detention center Friday night on $15,000 bond.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Bonnie Kay Mozingo, 28, of 1711 Philadelphia Ave. in Chambersburg, Pa., was charged with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Paul Lynn Mozingo, 30, of 1711 Philadelphia Ave. in Chambersburg was charged with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Michael Earl Blubaugh, 22, of 7186 Ruritan Drive in Chambersburg was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Blubaugh was released Friday on $6,000 bond.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Timothy Alan Hall, 18, address unavailable, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Justin Andrew Trei, 21, of 4219 Clayhill Road in Waynesboro, Pa., was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Trei was released Friday morning on $170 bond.

Hall and the Mozingos were each released on their own recognizance, a Washington County District Court commissioner said.

White was also charged with contributing to the condition of a child, according to charging documents. White's 6-year-old son was in the Ford Focus, where a bag containing 15 vials of suspected heroin could "easily" have been accessed by the boy, according to charging documents.

The boy was released to the custody of his mother, Johnson said.

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