Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman has announced the arrest of 32 suspects in connection with a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking operation, which spanned from northern Montgomery County to Philadelphia and included 12 residents of and Hatfield, Towamencin, Montgomery and Upper Gwynedd townships.
Methamphetamine was recovered from a motorcycle repair shop in Lansdale, according to the report, just one of many locations where police executed search warrants.
While most of the suspects who were arrested come from the western part of the county, Lower Moreland has its fair share of incidents relating to illicit drugs (more than most surrounding townships according to other Patch sites). Over a six-month period dating back to September of 2011, there have been more than 10 reports relating to methadone and/or heroin in the township.
Some local residents point to the Discovery House, the outpatient addiction center on Philmont Ave., for the cause of so many drug users being stopped by police in our township. And they could be right. Half the people who showed up in the local police reports admitted that they were either on their way to the Discovery House or just coming from there.
Lieutenant Kevin Dillon of the Lower Moreland Police Department said most of the people who are stopped are Philadelphia residents.
“They get their methadone from (the Discovery House),” Dillon said. “We don’t know if they are clients, or just showing up to get it, or they are both. The majority aren’t patients. Occasionally you will get one (that is a patient).”
According to the LMPD reports, people who have been charged with possession of these narcotics are coming from places like Feasterville, Lancaster, Chalfont and Churchville among other townships. But with such a large drug bust, Dillon hopes the number of incidents in LM will decrease.
“You would think so,” Dillon said. “I hope so, but that remains to be seen of course. If it was that big of a drug bust, you could very well see it affect us here. The more people that get arrested for it the better it is. It can’t hurt.”
Regardless of whether or not these people live in Lower Moreland, they are driving through the township while under the influence making it a dangerous situation for everyone. One suspect collided with another car after receiving a dose of methadone from the Discovery House. Police also found the following in his possession: black knit cap, pair of black gloves, black stocking cut to fit the approximate size of a human head, an expandable straight baton in a holster and an alcohol pad with gauze. The man refered to these items as his "Go-Kit." So in some cases the drugs aren’t the only problem.
The county investigation began in 2011, when detectives from the district attorney's Narcotics Enforcement Team were tipped off to the alleged drug trafficking activities of Hatfield residents Frank Messina, Jeffrey Penna and David Penna, as well as Troy Dudas, of Limerick Township. Based on information gathered during the investigation, authorities were able to secure the use of wiretaps and electronic surveillance on the cell phones of Messina and Dudas from Feb. 8, 2012, through Feb. 29, 2012.
As a result of the surveillance, 14 search warrants were executed across Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, where authorities were able to recover quantities of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and firearms.
One of the locations was Cosmo Motors, an auto shop located at 101 East Blaine St. in Lansdale. Cosmo Motors is a motorcycle and vehicle wholesale parts, distribution and repair facility.
According to the press release, the structure of the organization consisted of "meth distributers, users, and pushers." The release also states that the main targets were brothers Jeffrey and David Penna, who "used and distributed methamphetamine from Jeffrey Penna's residence in Hatfield Township."
The release states that the Penna brothers were later joined by Messina, who allegedly used and distributed methamphetamine, including to his own sister, Lisa Messina. Authorities were able to intercept conversations between Messina and his sister, which detailed "their method of operation in the distribution and use of [methamphetamine]."
The release also states that the investigation revealed links to a methamphetamine distribution network in Philadelphia, which was allegedly headed by brothers Juan and Antonio Encarnacion.
The suspects were arraigned on Wednesday, May 2, and Friday, May 4, by Magisterial District Judge Andrea Duffy, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 11, at 10 a.m.
The following were charged with Felony Corrupt Organizations and Violations of the Drug Act:
- Francesco “Frank” Messina, 719 Schwab Road, Hatfield Township
- Troy Dudas, 111 Mine Run Road, Limerick Township
- Todd Slawecki, 42 Orchard Court, Royersford, Upper Providence Township
- Robert Glorioso, 1295 Cabin Road, Hatfield Township
- Jeff Penna, 1295 Cabin Road, Hatfield Township
- Dave Penna, 1898 Valley Forge Road, Towamencin Township
- Jeff Martinez, 3822 North 6th St., Philadelphia
- James Trull, 1447 Old Skippack Road, Upper Salford Township
- Antonio Encarnacion Perales, 1002 N. Marshall St. 2nd floor, Philadelphia
- Vanessa Ramos, 1002 N. Marshall St. 2nd floor, Philadelphia
- Juan M.Encarnacion, 3921 N. 6th St. Philadelphia,
- Kent Lee Seprauskie “Gadget”, 55 Meng Road, Limerick Township
- Timothy Beck, 55 Meng Road, Limerick Township
- Kristina Popelarski, 385 Greenwood Ave., Upper Providence Township
- Joel Jay Payumo, aka Marissa Devine, 251 E. Thompson St., Philadelphia
- Joseph “Phoenix” Croxton, 1734 Tasker St., Floor 1, Philadelphia
- Dan Ells, 225 East 2nd St. Apartment B, Lansdale
- Rodney Creciun, 108 Stump Road, Montgomery Township
- John Griffith, 1626 Sheffield Drive, Whitpain Township
The following defendants were charged with Misdemeanor Violations of the Drug Act:
- Ronald Krauss, 10 South Towamencin Ave., Lansdale
- Jamie L. Hamburg, 27 Lincoln Ave. Floor 2, Lansdale
- Anthony LaGrotte, 149 North 3rd St., Telford
- Carmen Iannelli, 2382 Orchard Lane, New Hanover Township
- John J. Welsh III, 1150 Schwab Road, Hatfield Township
- Lisa Messina, 2564 Morris Road, Worcester Township
- Donald L Preston, 72 Roboda Boulevard, Upper Providence Township
- Kevin Saldutti, 1415 East Hewson St., Philadelphia
- Ryan Burns, 804 Marlbrook Lane, Upper Gwynedd (Madison at Willowyck)
- Norman R. Russell Jr., 3275 Bergey Road, Hatfield Township
- Thomas McGoldrick, 1 Boro Line Road, King of Prussia
- Keith Chasteen, 251 E. Thompson St., Philadelphia
- Judy Cress, 913 Township Line Road, Phoenixville