Eight Charged With Selling Heroin Near Kensington School, Playground

Feds say sales took place close to Lewis Elkin Elementary School, Hissey Center Park Playground.

Children line up at the Lewis Elkin Elementary School in Kensington (Photo via Google Maps)

Children line up at the Lewis Elkin Elementary School in Kensington (Photo via Google Maps)

Just weeks after the Drug Enforcement Administration released a report claiming that heroin availability is up in Philadelphia when it’s down in most other parts of the country, another branch of the Department of Justice has announced charges against eight people for allegedly dealing drugs in Kensington, including at locations within 1,000 feet of a neighborhood school and playground.

According to United States Attorney Zane David Memeger, the following Philadelphia residents were part of the Kensington drug ring: Jorge “Hansel” Balbuena, 29; Yan Mota Soto, 25; Luis Garcia, 35; Jose Garcia, 35; Ysidro “Pisa Pie” Garcia, 67; Elvin De Jesus, 26; Pedro Angel Montes-Perez, 24; and Gary Cuevas-Reyes, 27.

The feds say that Balbuena was the leader of the ring, which is accused of unleashing crack, cocaine and heroin onto the streets of Philadelphia, including within 1,000 feet of the Lewis Elkin Elementary School on D Street and the Hissey Center Park Playground on Indiana Avenue. Under federal law, penalties can triple if a suspect is convicted of selling drugs that close to a school or playground.

In addition to allegedly selling heroin, Soto is said to have served as a driver and interpreter for Balbuena. He’s also accused of obtaining the cell phones used by dealers. Ysidro Garcia is the father of twin brothers Luis and Jose Garcia, and the trio allegedly operated out of the area of D Street and Indiana Avenue.

The only defendant that is a United States citizen is Montes-Perez, say prosecutors. The rest are citizens of the Dominican Republic. That same DEA report released in November stated that Dominican criminal organizations control most of the mid-level distribution of drugs in Philadelphia.

The offenses are alleged to have occurred between March 2014 and October 2015. Balbuena, Jose Garcia, De Jesus, Cuevas-Reyes, and Montes-Perez were all arrested on Thursday morning.