Fentanyl supplier for drug ring sent to state prison
>> A Reading man identified in court papers as the fentanyl, heroin and cocaine supplier for the leader of an alleged corrupt organization that distributed the drugs in Montgomery, Berks and Lehigh counties is on his way to prison.
Miguel A. “Migz” Figueroa Jr., 34, of the 700 block of Lance Place, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 18 to 40 years in a state correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to charges of corrupt organizations, possession with intent to deliver fentanyl and cocaine, conspiracy and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity in connection with incidents that occurred between November 2015 and June 2018.
The sentence was imposed by Judge Risa Vetri Ferman as part of a plea agreement. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Tonya Lupinacci, assistant chief of the trials division, and coprosecutor Laura Bradbury, captain of the firearms unit.
Figueroa was among more than a dozen people rounded up last year during the drug investigation dubbed “Operation Poison Control.”
At the time of the June 2018 arrests, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele alleged the drug ring members were delivering “poison” to drug-addicted people in the region.
With the charges, prosecutors alleged Figueroa was the drug supplier for David Tyrone Cooper, 43, of the 1000 block of Saylor Street, Muhlenberg Township, Berks County, the alleged leader of the corrupt organization. Cooper is still awaiting court action on drug-related charges.
At the time of his arrest, Figueroa was preparing to deliver 200 grams of fentanyl to an alleged co-conspirator, prosecutors alleged.
“Figueroa was dealing in death. He was delivering the poison that has fueled addictions and overdoses that have affected so many people in Montgomery County and the surrounding region,” Steele said. “This sentence sends a strong message to anyone who is trafficking and selling fentanyl and other deadly drugs in Montgomery County and in our region that we will tirelessly work to bring them to justice.”
Several other people, lesser players in the drug operation, previously pleaded guilty to drug-related charges and are awaiting sentencing.
Others charged, and still awaiting trial, in connection with the drug operation include:
Jerome Beverly Tucker, 63, of the 400 block of Chestnut Street, Pottstown, who authorities alleged was “to cook the crack cocaine” and prepare it for distribution; and Christopher Saunders, 25, of the 400 block of King Street, Pottstown, who was identified as Cooper’s stepson and “a member of the organization’s upper echelon” and who allegedly was responsible for overseeing the distribution of cocaine and fentanyl in Pottstown.
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 utilized electronic surveillance including wiretaps on the suspects’ phones, visual surveillance, controlled drug buys and seizures of evidence with search warrants.
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.
“This investigation revealed Cooper accomplished his goal,” detectives wrote. “This plan included the enlistment of various sub-dealers, including his stepson, Chris Saunders.”
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.
“We knew we had to try and stop that significant amount of deadly poison from going out on the street, so we moved quickly to set up law enforcement teams to arrest the defendants and serve 15 search warrants on their homes and vehicles,” Steele said.
During a subsequent 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.
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.
Miguel A. “Migz” Figueroa Jr., 34, of Reading, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 18 to 40 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to drug-related charges in connection with his role as the supplier of drugs in a corrupt organization that distributed drugs in Montgomery, Berks and Lehigh counties.