Mem­bers of 3-county fen­tanyl ring ar­rested

Au­thor­i­ties an­nounce ar­rests of three-county fen­tanyl ring

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

Au­thor­i­ties dis­man­tled a drug ring based in the Pottstown re­gion and ar­rested its mem­bers.

Au­thor­i­ties dis­man­tled a cor­rupt or­ga­ni­za­tion and ar­rested its mem­bers who “were deal­ing in death,” al­legedly dis­tribut­ing the deadly drug fen­tanyl, as well as co­caine, pri­mar­ily in the Pottstown re­gion but also in Berks and Le­high coun­ties.

“These men were deal­ing in death. They were de­liv­er­ing poi­son that has fu­eled the ad­dic­tions and over­doses that have af­fected so many peo­ple in Mont­gomery County and the sur­round­ing re­gion,” Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele said on Thurs­day as he an­nounced the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion dubbed “Op­er­a­tion Poi­son Con­trol.”

Au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied David Ty­rone Cooper, 43, of the 1000 block of Say­lor Street, Muh­len­berg Town­ship, Berks County, as the leader of the al­leged cor­rupt or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Miguel A. “Migz” Figueroa Jr., 34, of the 700 block of Lance Place, Read­ing, was iden­ti­fied in court pa­pers as Cooper’s fen­tanyl, heroin and co­caine sup­plier.

Three Pottstown men, Jerome Bev­erly Tucker, 63, of the 400 block of Chest­nut Street, Aaron “Ace” Ram­seure, 31, of the 900 block of North Hanover Street, and Christo­pher Saun­ders, 25, of the 400 block of King Street, also face charges in con­nec­tion with their al­leged roles in the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Saun­ders, who also listed ad­dresses in the 700 block of Wal­nut Street and the 500 block of High Street, was iden­ti­fied by Steele as Cooper’s step­son and “a mem­ber of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s up­per ech­e­lon” who al­legedly was re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion of co­caine and fen­tanyl in Pottstown.

Steele char­ac­ter­ized Ram­seure as “se­cond-in-com­mand to Cooper, one of Cooper’s right-hand men.”

Steele al­leged Tucker’s job was “to cook the crack co­caine,” pre­par­ing it for dis­tri­bu­tion.

The five men face var­i­ous charges for their al­leged roles in the or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­clud­ing cor­rupt or­ga­ni­za­tions, con­spir­acy, pos­ses­sion with in­tent to de­liver con­trolled sub­stances, crim­i­nal use of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion fa­cil­ity and deal­ing in pro­ceeds of un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties. Cooper and Figueroa also face weapons charges.

“By tak­ing these ma­jor drug traf­fick­ers off the street, as well as lock­ing up their 10 sub-deal­ers and their lower-level deal­ers, we have sev­ered an artery in the re­gion’s drug pipe­line,” Steele added. “I’ve said it be­fore to deal­ers and I’ll say again, don’t ped­dle your poi­son in Mont­gomery County. Stay out of Mont­gomery County.”

The five de­fen­dants were ar­raigned Thurs­day be­fore District Court Judge Ed­ward Kropp Jr., who set bail at $1 mil­lion for Cooper, Figueroa, Ram­seure and Saun­ders. Bail was set at $250,000 cash for Tucker. Un­able to post bail each of the men re­mains in the county jail await­ing pre­lim­i­nary hear­ings on July 12.

Steele said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing to de­ter­mine if the drug traf­fick­ing re­sulted in any over­dose deaths. If over­dose deaths are un­cov­ered, the men could face ad­di­tional charges of drug de­liv­ery re­sult­ing in death.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors with the district at­tor­ney’s Vi­o­lent Crime Unit said the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties were re­ported to po­lice by nine con­fi­den­tial in­for­mants and three anony­mous “con­cerned ci­ti­zens.” The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also in­cluded elec­tronic sur­veil­lance in­clud­ing wire­taps on the sus­pects’ phones, vis­ual sur­veil­lance, con­trolled drug buys and seizures of ev­i­dence with search war­rants.

“These three con­cerned ci­ti­zens live in Pottstown and wanted to do the right thing in rid­ding their com­mu­nity of this se­ri­ous drug deal­ing,” Steele said. “This is a solid com­mu­nity of good peo­ple, law-abid­ing peo­ple who care about their com­mu­nity…I thank them for com­ing for­ward.”

Pottstown Po­lice Chief F. Richard Drumheller praised the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and thanked the ci­ti­zens who pro­vided in­for­ma­tion.

“We never turn down help and we’re look­ing to solve prob­lems. Pottstown is full of a lot of very, very good ci­ti­zens. This is a scourge on their com­mu­nity and they want it to end,” Drumheller said.

“When some­body comes for­ward and gives you in­for­ma­tion they then gauge you to see what you do with it. And if you do noth­ing with it they lose faith in their law en­force­ment. But when they see an ac­tual case come down like this…once the pic­ture un­folded and a lot of peo­ple saw it, there were a lot of peo­ple who came for­ward and said, ‘Thank you for help­ing us out.’ That’s what law en­force­ment is all about,” Drumheller added.

Dur­ing the course of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, de­tec­tives learned that Cooper was pre­vi­ously jailed for about 10 years on drug traf­fick­ing charges and while he was pre­par­ing for re­lease from a state prison in 2015 he “for­mu­lated a plan” to dis­trib­ute drugs in Mont­gomery County, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

“These three con­cerned ci­ti­zens live in Pottstown and wanted to do the right thing in rid­ding their com­mu­nity of this se­ri­ous drug deal­ing.” — Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele

“This in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed Cooper ac­com­plished his goal,” de­tec­tives wrote. “This plan in­cluded the en­list­ment of var­i­ous sub-deal­ers, in­clud­ing his step­son, Chris Saun­ders.”

In a let­ter he al­legedly wrote to Saun­ders from prison in July 2015 Cooper wrote, “When I touch down I should have a whole chicken wait­ing for me a few of my folks are go­ing to bless me. I just gotta (sic) make sure dudes are ready for that type of ac­tion feel me” and in­di­cated he was “in the process of putting a lit­tle team to­gether,” ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers.

De­tec­tives trained in in­ter­pret­ing coded lan­guage and street jar­gon al­leged the term “whole chicken” re­ferred to a kilo­gram of co­caine.

“It is also my opin­ion when Cooper wrote, ‘my folks are go­ing to bless me’ Cooper is in­form­ing Saun­ders that Cooper’s source of sup­ply will pro­vide him with the il­le­gal drugs upon his re­lease,” de­tec­tives wrote in the ar­rest af­fi­davit. “It is my opin­ion when Cooper wrote ‘touch down’ he is de­scrib­ing his plan upon his re­lease from prison.”

When Cooper wrote “I just gotta (sic) make sure dudes are ready for that type of ac­tion” he was re­lay­ing to Saun­ders his con­cern about mov­ing the il­le­gal drugs quickly by need­ing to con­firm that his fu­ture sub-deal­ers would be pre­pared to sell large quan­ti­ties of the il­le­gal drugs, de­tec­tives al­leged.

The let­ter was found dur­ing a search of a ve­hi­cle as­so­ci­ated with Saun­ders, along with heroin and drug para­pher­na­lia, de­tec­tives said.

On June 1, 2018, de­tec­tives in­ter­cepted phone calls be­tween Cooper and his al­leged con­fed­er­ates that re­vealed Figueroa was to de­liver fen­tanyl to Cooper at the Muh­len­berg Town­ship res­i­dence, ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers. Sur­veil­lance was es­tab­lished in the area and de­tec­tives ob­served Figueroa ar­rive in a Honda Odyssey and meet with Cooper.

“As law en­force­ment ap­proached the res­i­dence, Cooper ob­served law en­force­ment and fled on foot. When Cooper fled he left a small child in his ve­hi­cle,” de­tec­tives al­leged.

Cooper is also charged with en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child.

Dur­ing a search of Cooper’s res­i­dence, de­tec­tives seized co­caine, drug pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als and a firearm, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit. De­tec­tives al­leged the co­caine was ob­tained from Figueroa.

Figueroa also uti­lized a con­cealed com­part­ment, or void, in the rear of the Honda Odyssey to con­ceal drugs. A state po­lice trooper trained to iden­tify such al­tered ve­hi­cle com­part­ments searched the ve­hi­cle and dis­cov­ered two bags of fen­tanyl, nearly 200 grams, and a Glock .40-cal­iber firearm.

Of­fi­cials said the fen­tanyl seized could have been di­vided into 6,600 doses on the street.

“That’s a lot of fen­tanyl that is not on the street,” Steele said.

Searches also were con­ducted at other res­i­dences in Mont­gomery, Berks and Le­high coun­ties and re­sulted in the seizure of drugs, seven firearms and $34,000 cash, court pa­pers in­di­cate.

The ar­rests were the cul­mi­na­tion of a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion by au­thor­i­ties from Mont­gomery, Berks and Le­high coun­ties, as well as the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion and the Penn­syl­va­nia Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and Penn­syl­va­nia State Po­lice.

“I’ve said it be­fore to deal­ers and I’ll say again, don’t ped­dle your poi­son in Mont­gomery County. Stay out of Mont­gomery County.” — Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE MONT­GOMERY COUNTY DISTRICT AT­TOR­NEY

Top row, from left, David Cooper, Miguel Figueroa Jr. Bot­tom row, from left, Aaron Ram­seure, Christo­pher Saun­ders, Gerome Tucker.

CARL HESSLER JR. — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mont­gomery County au­thor­i­ties dis­played the guns and drug para­pher­na­lia that were seized dur­ing “Op­er­a­tion Poi­son Con­trol” in Pottstown.

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