Drug sweep hits Tamaqua
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Schuylkill County Assistant District Attorney Bill Reiley, the prosecutor for the county's drug sweep operation, speaks with the media following the sweep's raid in Tamaqua Wednesday morning.
Schuylkill County's ongoing drug sweep hit Tamaqua on Wednesday.
The raid, led by Schuylkill District Attorney James P. Goodman's Drug Task Force and the Tamaqua Police Department, netted seven adults, considered street-level dealers, who were sought on the drug-related warrants, as well as five juveniles.
The suspects were arrested by Tamaqua Police beginning at 6 a.m., with the adults arraigned before Magisterial District Justice Stephen J. Bayer.
The juveniles had their cases filed with the Schuylkill County Juvenile Justice Department.
Tamaqua Patrolman Anthony Stanell, who with Sgt. Rick Weaver spearheaded the investigations that led to the rounding up of the targeted defendants, said the sweep took about two hours. The majority were found in the Tamaqua area, with one in Luzerne County. Most of the individuals picked up had previous arrest records, added Stanell.
The remaining suspect is being sought in the Hazleton area.
Goodman said the Tamaqua sweep is the final part of a countywide drug operation that began on July 30, with the arrest of 25 individuals in northern Schuylkill County.
"We've done the northern, central and western parts of the county, and now we have done the eastern part," said Goodman, in an informal press conference outside Bayer's office as the suspects were being arraigned.
Goodman explained that funding for the Schuylkill drug sweeps came from a federal COPS Methamphetamines Grant for $450,000 that was obtained with the help of U.S. Congressman Timothy Holden of St. Clair.
"The grant allowed us to put money toward officers for overtime, for equipment and for hiring a drug prosecutor," said Goodman.
The county's prosecutor in the operation, Schuylkill Assistant District Attorney Bill Reiley, said that nine individuals had arrest warrants filed against them and eight were rounded up by Tamaqua Police, the D.A.'s Drug Task Force and the county sheriff's office and probation and parole offices, as well as the five juveniles.
One of the individuals was found to have drug contraband at that suspect's residence, Reiley said. A search warrant was expected to be executed at that location, which is in West Hazleton.
Reiley said the majority of the arrests involved crack cocaine and marijuana.
"The amounts were enough to rise it to the level of felony," added Reiley. "We're seeing a pattern here."
Goodman said the overall county sweeps did catch what he referred to as some "high-end people" on the drug distribution chain.
Those arrested, and their charges, are as follows:
• Lori Oakes, 40, of 419 E. Union St., Tamaqua, delivery of crack cocaine on March 20, with bail set at $10,000;
• Ricky Nelson, 31, of 34 Hunter St., Tamaqua, delivery of marijuana on April 9, bail set at $25,000 straight;
• Justin Neff, 24, of 119 Pine St., Tamaqua, delivery of marijuana on May 7, bail set at $25,000 straight;
• Brenda Zimmer, 46, of 6 Cherry St., Tamaqua, delivery of marijuana on May 15, bail set at $25,000 unsecured;
• Angela Wagner, 46, of 60 River Rd., Tamaqua, delivery of crack cocaine on May 6, bail set at $10,000;
• Kelly Delessio, 32, of 63 Bowe St., Tamaqua, delivery of marijuana on April 14 and on May 28, bail set at $25,000 straight for each case;
• Dustin Oncay, 25, of 107 Washington St., Tamaqua, delivery of marijuana on May 15, bail set at $25,000 unsecured.
Those unable to post bail were committed to Schuylkill County Prison, Pottsville.
The suspects received a tentative preliminary hearing date of Thursday, Oct. 29 by Bayer.
Goodman said more arrest warrants are pending and will be served in the near future.