Only five Upper Chichester individuals remain wanted under an investigation called “Operation Pain Killer” for the alleged illegal sale of prescription drugs, following a series of 28 other arrests during a sweep last week.
As of press time, Upper Chi law enforcement was still looking for Jose Rodriguez, Jason McCabe, Joshua Zalota, Brian Smith and Diane Vincent. District Attorney G. Michael Green said these people are presumed to be armed and dangerous and people should call police if they are spotted.
The multiple busts are only a fraction of several other ongoing efforts to weed out the increasingly pervasive illegal usage and distribution of painkillers, according to Green, who was joined by Upper Chichester Police Chief Thomas Bush and
Lower Chichester Police Chief Thomas Gaspari at a press conference last week.
The sweep was initiated as a result of two prior investigations into the murder of Upper Chi residents, 83-year-old George Shrom and 25-year-old Dana Felts, over a year ago. Green said Felts, thought to be a housewife, was allegedly involved in the drug trade. In a separate crime, Shrom was said to be killed by a person he hired as a handyman who, according to Green, was also involved in illegal drugs and died from an overdose.
Many of the arrests, according to Green, were from ongoing undercover investigations along with several tips received from the public.
“(The 28) arrests are not the end,” Green said. “We know this has been occurring (and) this is an area of large concern to law enforcement in Delaware County and throughout the region. (This) operation, though successful, is not complete,” he said last week.
People arrested included 33-year-old Heather Grant, of the 100 block of Ridge Rd. in Upper Chi. Green said she allegedly sold Percocet pills to an undercover cop in May and brought her young son to the transaction. Also arrested was 50-year-old Marilyn Werner, who, according to Green, had allegedly been doing business directly across the street from Johnson Avenue Park in Upper Chi.
Green said the abuse of pain killers is frequently seen in young people and that they are under a misconception of what prescription drugs are. “They believe wrongly that these drugs are safe to use when prepared in a pristine pharmacy,” Green said. The drugs in question were said to either be stolen or, in some cases, obtained legally with a prescription.
“I’m not a physician,” Green said, “We’re depending on physicians in the community to do proper work-ups (for people purchasing prescription pills).”
A drawer of drug paraphernalia was presented as an idea for what police have been confiscating at many of the arrest locations.
Green said, as with any defendant, all of the detainees are innocent until proven guilty and “all of the charges presented are merely charges.”