Attorney General Shapiro, Blair County DA Consiglio announce takedown of a ring that sold $7.8 million in heroin in Altoona & Johnstown over 13 months
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Blair County District Attorney Rich Consiglio and other officials today announced charges against 16 drug dealers for operating a ring that sold 780,000 bags of heroin in Blair and Cambria counties worth an estimated $7.8 million over 13 months. The ring also sold cocaine worth $1.9 million as well.
A statewide investigating grand jury identified Damon “Fat Cat” Devine, 40, of N 60th St, Philadelphia, as the main target of the investigation by the Office of Attorney General, the District Attorneys of Blair, Cambria and Montgomery counties, Altoona and Johnstown police, Pennsylvania State Police, and the Blair and Cambria County Drug Task Forces.
“This investigation involved dealers who transported large amounts of heroin and cocaine from Philadelphia to Altoona and Johnstown,” Attorney General Shapiro said at a press conference outside the Blair County Courthouse. “Our work with District Attorney Consiglio and other state and local law enforcement agencies led to the dismantling of a major drug pipeline into Blair and Cambria counties. We will remain merciless with the dealers peddling these poisons in our communities.”
The investigation revealed the Devine ring sold heroin that was stamped “Dragon” on the bags because it was more potent than other heroin sold in Altoona or Johnstown.
In August 2016, Devine was a passenger in a car driven by an associate in the ring. After a series of traffic violations, a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper attempted to pull the car over. A chase ensued from Philadelphia to Montgomery County that at times exceeded 100 miles per hour and ended in a crash. At that time, 3,750 heroin baggies stamped “Dragon,” 127 grams of cocaine and other evidence was seized from the vehicle. Nine days after his arrest, Devine posted bail and continued to operate his drug organization.
Investigators made a series of controlled drug buys from Devine’s associates. Following his arrest, one agreed to cooperate with investigators and buy heroin from Devine. During a February meeting outside an Altoona motel, Devine sold heroin to this individual – and was arrested with 651 bags of “Dragon” heroin in his possession.
In total, investigators seized 14,890 bags of heroin with an estimated street value of nearly $150,000 during their probe, in addition to nearly half a pound of cocaine. Based on the investigation and testimony in front of the grand jury, investigators estimated the Dragon ring sold $7.8 million in heroin and $1.9 million in cocaine and crack cocaine over 13 months from January 2016 to February 2017.
“These arrests will go a long way in slowing down the availability of cocaine and heroin in Blair and Cambria counties,” said Blair DA Consiglio. “This is another example of law enforcement reaching higher in the food chain to cut off the supply of poison to our communities.”
Attorney General Shapiro credited law enforcement collaboration with helping to take down the Dragon Heroin Pipeline. “The District Attorneys of Blair, Cambria and Montgomery counties worked closely with our office, along with the Pennsylvania State Police and Altoona and Johnstown police,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “We’re grateful to them.”
In addition to ring leader Devine, the following defendants are charged with possessing with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy and related charges:
Aaron Beard, 50, of 19th St, Altoona
Melissa Coleman, 43, of Stackhouse St, Johnstown
James Everett-Bey, 40, of Hunter Street, Philadelphia
Richard Govier, 39, of W Main St, Stoystown
Kristy Hicks, 38, of 29th St, Altoona
Kara Kirby-Horner, 35, of Campbell Ave, Johnstown
Blaine Jackson, 40, of Chandler Ave, Johnstown
Jaime Madden, 52, of Franklin St, Johnstown
Jasmine McGowan, 27, of Cypress Ave, Johnstown
James Miller, 28, of Ihmsen Ave, Johnstown
Jabu Robinson, 37, of W Wyneva St, Philadelphia
Phillip Stevens, 30, of Cherry Ave, Altoona
Travis Taylor, 39, of 1st Ave, Altoona
Brieon Thurston, 35, of Lenhart St, Johnstown
Barbara Tyler, 58, of Greenwood Ave, Trenton, NJ