ASHLEY — Police investigating suspected drug use in the parking lot of Family Dollar and a drug treatment center on South Main Street arrested three men and discovered a loaded handgun inside a vehicle Thursday.
Officers said they responded to the parking lot at about 6:30 p.m. and noticed a parked Kia Sedona with a plastic bag of suspected marijuana in a cup holder. While police were at the vehicle, Lester Gibson, 35, of Bronx, New York, was walking toward the Kia but spotted officers and ran away, they say.
Police found Gibson hiding behind a Dumpster.
As police chased Gibson in the parking lot, they said Nicholas Ryan Whaley, 24, of Albrightsville, sped away in the minivan, initiating a pursuit.
Whaley turned onto South Main Street and then onto Cook Street, allegedly crashing into several parked vehicles.
Whaley stopped at the end of Cook Street, where police say he was arrested.
A passenger in the van, Joseph Clark, 35, of Long Pond, refused to exit.
Police allege they found a loaded, .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, several heroin packets, a small amount of cocaine and 10 pills believed to be Xanax inside the vehicle.
Gibson was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $35,000 bail.
Whaley was charged with fleeing or attempting to elude police, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a suspended license and reckless driving. He was jailed for lack of $50,000 bail.
Clark was charged with two counts each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, and a single count of illegal possession of a firearm. He was jailed for lack of $35,000 bail.