Kathleen Kane Announces Arrests in Philly Heroin Bust
A month-long investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics yielded two arrests and the seizure of 3,660 packets of heroin on June 10th, Pennsylvania AG Kathleen G. Kane announced at a news conference today.
Santos Javier Alvarez-Ruiz, 38, an alleged mid-level dealer, and Felipe Fontanez Burgos, 42, an alleged street dealer, were arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal use of a communication facility, and possession of a controlled substance, among others.
Agents placed Alvarez-Ruiz’s home under surveillance in anticipation of a narcotics transaction and say they witnessed Fontane-Burgos leaving the house with a black trash bag. Fontanez-Burgos was then stopped by investigators in his car near Summerdale Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard, and found in possession of a large quantity of packaging materials consistent with a significant heroin distribution operation.
A search warrant for Alvarez-Ruiz’s residence led to the seizure of roughly 250 grams of heroin — an approximate street value of $85,000 — along with $6,000 in cash and more distribution materials including a scale, grinders, and a strainer.
“I have heard the cries of the people, particularly here in Philadelphia, who say no one is dealing with the street-level dealers,” said Kane. “Everyone’s focusing on the supply. And while they’re not complaining with that aspect, they want something done about the street level dealers as well.”
According to Kane, investigators had to determine whether to remove the drugs from the street while they had the chance, or allow them to fuel a larger investigation.
“We felt that this was a large enough quantity that we did not want this to hit the street, and that’s why we took these two dealers off now,” said Kane. “This is over 3,600 packets of heroin, 250 grams. When you cut that down into, say, a typical heroin user may use about 10 bags a day. Now we’re looking at 360 either individuals, or 360 days that one person is continuing to use this heroin, if they make it that long.”
Approximately 3 oz. of heroin are put into each baggie, which is then placed in a plastic bag and sealed. Bags are arranged into bundles, and bundles into racks. Each bag is sold for $10.
“It depends on the person’s habit or addiction, but it is enough heroin to satisfy someone who has a low addiction,” said Paul Richart, Regional Agent in charge of Bureau of Narcotics investigations in Philadelphia. “The amount of heroin here is probably more than enough for more than one corner, street corner operation in Philadelphia.”
Councilman Bobby Henon oversees the 6th district, in which Alvarez-Ruiz’s house, where the drugs were seized, is on the same block as a public high school.
“These houses, these bag houses, which are spread throughout northeast Philadelphia, are in my district as well as others. But this one in particular is a block away from a school and they’re selling and distributing heroin and narcotics right in our neighborhoods,” Henon said. “The house that was busted was selling and distributing a block away from the school on Brighton street in my district.”
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 28th. The investigation is ongoing, and additional arrests are anticipated.