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Franklin Co. heroin seizure is largest in two decades

March 16, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. -- The Franklin County (Pa.) District Attorney's Office said Monday that a nearly three-month investigation by the drug task force has resulted in the largest heroin seizure in the county in at least 20 years.

Three people -- Rafael A. Rivera, Kailey Radnor and Joshua Gage -- were charged in connection with the seizure of more than 1,230 bags of heroin on Thursday and Friday. Authorities allege they distributed heroin from Baltimore and New York City in the Waynesboro area.

Rivera, 27; Radnor, 20; and Gage, 28, were all being held in Franklin County Jail in lieu of bail ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.

District Attorney John F. Nelson formed the drug task force in 1988. Prior to this case, the largest heroin bust involving the drug task force was in August 2000, when 120 bags were found in a vehicle.

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The investigation began in January when the Waynesboro Police Department started hearing about increased availability of heroin. Further details were gleaned from informants and "concerned citizens," according to a news release issued Monday.

Investigators allege bulk heroin was imported, then broken down into smaller quantities and repackaged. Glass vials sold for $20 each and so-called "stamp bags" sold for $20 to $30 each.

Most of the containers were stamped "Lights Out," as a method of identifying the particular brand and establishing product loyalty, the news release stated.

After conducting surveillance several times on a home shared by Gage and a woman at 244 W. North St. in Waynesboro, officers searched it at 2:45 p.m. Thursday. Gage, the woman and her two children were home as officers with the Waynesboro Police Department, Washington Township Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police discovered 22 bags of "Lights Out" heroin, several syringes and assorted packaging materials, the release states.

The heroin found in the home had a street value of approximately $660, the news release states.

Officers learned more about the heroin's source during the search and looked at cell phone records. They learned that "Benny" was the alleged source and that he was in the area making deliveries.

Using an informant, investigators arranged to make a heroin purchase from Benny at 4:40 p.m. in a borough alley. He allegedly sold the informant 20 heroin bags stamped "Lights Out."

Soon afterward, officers stopped the black vehicle Benny was using and found $1,412 in his possession, including the drug task force money used by the informant. Benny was identified as Rivera and the woman in his car as Kailey Radnor, the release states.

According to the release, a confidential informant told the drug task force that night that Rivera stayed with Radnor when he traveled from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. They went to the home, at 4650B Zana Court in Zullinger, Pa., on Friday night and found a safe with 1,216 bags of "Lights Out" heroin, according to the release.

They also found an ounce of cocaine and $4,000, the release states.

Authorities estimated the street value of the heroin at $36,480 and the cocaine at $2,000.

Rivera was charged with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and criminal use of a communications facility. Radnor was charged with criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a small amount of marijuana for the drug found in her possession when the black vehicle was stopped.

Gage was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

Charges are pending against a fourth person, Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said.

Preliminary hearings have been scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Franklin County Court.

Anyone wanting to report suspected drug activity in Franklin County can call the task force at 800-344-3127 or send e-mail to tips@drugtaskforce.org. More information is available at www.drugtaskforce.org.

All information is kept confidential and callers may remain anonymous.

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