Drug cases on the rise in Schuylkill
From 2010 through 2014, the number of new criminal cases filed in Schuylkill County averaged about 2,000 a year; but from 2015 through 2017, about 2,500 new cases were opened each year.
The increase is directly tied to the number of new drug cases filed, which has steadily increased from 282 in 2011 to 794 in 2017. Granted, those aren’t all “major” drug cases, such as arrests involving either large quantities of drugs, possession with intent to deliver drugs and/or possession of certain types of drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine. But even the “minor” drug cases stem from the “major” ones, which are their source.
That’s why Schuylkill County District Attorney Michael O’Pake has revamped part-time Assistant District Attorney Andrew Serina’s duties to focus on drug prosecution, major cases. During a workshop meeting last week, the Schuylkill County Commissioners approved the change.
“You look at the numbers, and the proliferation of drugs in Schuylkill County, and the move makes sense,” O’Pake said. “He (Serina) will focus on major drug cases.”
Serina will still prosecute other cases. But he will handle major drug cases from the preliminary hearing to trial or guilty plea, O’Pake said. Serina will be paid $42,398, which will include money coming from the drug task force through forfeitures.
“We’re using their money against them,” O’Pake said.