State agents working secretly in NEPA make 50 drug-related arrests, seize huge haul of drugs

By Times Leader Staff
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HARRISBURG — More than 44 pounds of heroin, fentanyl, crystal meth, cocaine and other drugs were seized as part of a five-month crackdown by a special state team trying to stem the opioid epidemic in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

In addition to the drug seizures, Shapiro said state agents made more than 50 drug-related arrests in northeastern Pennsylvania between March and August.

Meanwhile, a saturation patrol conducted last week by Luzerne County’s Drug Task Force and police departments across the area nabbed six fugitives and resulted in more drug arrests.

The effort by the AG’s office was done in close collaboration with Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell and Luzerne County DA Stefanie Salavantis, according to Shapiro.

He noted the heroin and fentanyl seized have a street value of nearly $300,000. The total street value of the seizures was estimated at $535,000.

“The people of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties are fed up with this heroin and opioid epidemic. We hear you, and we’re taking action,” Shapiro said in a Tuesday press release. “We are doing whatever it takes to get these drug dealers and their poisons out of our communities.”

As part of the work of the AG’s Strategic Response Team, 20 search warrants were executed, leading to the significant drug seizures.

“We’re greatly looking forward to continuing to work with Attorney General Shapiro’s administration to continue our mission of making neighborhoods safer for Luzerne County families,” said Salavantis.

State agents also seized 14 “illegal firearms” and two vehicles during the operation.

“Due to the confidential nature of the Strategic Response Team’s investigations, the Office of Attorney General cannot reveal its next deployments,” the release noted.

In a separate law enforcement action, a saturation patrol across Luzerne County last Thursday led to the capture of six fugitives, four drug arrests, a DUI charge, and another arrest on criminal charges, according to Salavantis.

As part of the aggressive policing effort, local departments issued a total of 107 traffic citations and adult probation made 56 home visits. Probation officials also attempted to serve three warrants, and Luzerne County detectives found a vehicle in Pittston that was involved in a hit-and-run in Plains Township, a press release says.

Salavantis thanked all of the officers and departments who helped last week. They included West Pittston, Avoca, Exeter Borough, Duryea, Hughestown, Jenkins Township, Pittston Township, Plains Township, West Wyoming, Wyoming, county Adult Probation and Pennsylvania State Police.

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More than 50 arrests during crackdown in Luzerne, Lackawanna

By Times Leader Staff