A man purported to be the main supplier of heroin in the Hazleton area was arrested Thursday night, smashing his drug ring and landing the Scranton Police Department one of the largest heroin seizures in its history.
Officers from the Scranton Police Special Investigations Division, with the assistance of Lackawanna County detectives and agents from the FBI, arranged a deal between a confidential police informant and Willy Perez, 35, who officers learned was operating a heroin ring in the Scranton and Hazleton areas, police said.
Perez had several people package and deliver heroin and cocaine for him, sometimes in disguise, according to a arrest affidavit. One "runner" known as "Mohamed" wore Domino's Pizza delivery uniforms as a cover when delivering the illegal narcotics.
"Right now, heroin is our No. 1 problem drug in the Scranton area," acting Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano said.
Officers seized a chance to arrest Perez on Thursday, arranging a large-scale buy in Scranton.
The deal was set to go down at the Clarion Hotel on Meadow Avenue. Perez would meet the informant with four other members of the organization to sell 40 "bricks" of heroin, equating to 2,000 bags, worth approximately $40,000 on the street.
At 8:30 p.m., the informant's phone began to ring. Perez gave instructions to wait in the hotel lobby. A silver Mitsubishi Outlander pulled up and two men got out and began walking to the lobby. Police sprang into action.
In addition to Perez, police arrested Jose Bueno De Jesus, 23, Morelia Latingua, 18, Mahd Odeh, 48, of Hazleton and Arquimedes Rivera-Perez, 32, of Far Rockaway, N.Y.
Police found a .40-caliber handgun with a magazine and a holster in the front seat of the car.
A further search of the car turned up 2,350 bags of heroin wrapped in newspaper and stuffed in a KFC bag.
"They worked tirelessly throughout the night," Graziano said of the law enforcement officers who made the big bust. "They saw the need to get the drugs off the street."
All were charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, conspiracy, corrupt organizations, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Perez is also charged with criminal use of a communication device.
The investigation is continuing and could lead to more arrests, Graziano said.
Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Oct. 31. Perez and Odeh are in Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail. Rivera-Perez is in Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $400,000 bail. Bueno De Jesus and Lantingua are held in Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $450,000 bail.
Copyright 2013 - The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service