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Cops Hoping Big Meth Bust Will Decrease Activity in Lower Moreland

Over the last six months there have been a number of incidents in LM involving illicit drugs.

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
Nicole Barba May 15, 2012 at 12:53 AM
I just wanted to comment about this ridiculous article. I live in a Montgomery County Suburb and understand the anger a methadone clinic brings to a community. However, this drug ring talks about people coming into the area where a clinic just happens to be and the cops are using it as the reason or the focal point of the problem when they even state that MOST of these people are not clients of the clinic. A methadone clinic is meant to HELP people who are in need of help,and yes I understand that not everyone goes to a clinic is clean but what about the people who are. The people the clinic is actually helping to maintain sobriety? Just bc a methadone clinic happens to be in Lower Moreland does not mean that this clinic is the cause of ALL these arrests. And anyway, the drugs in question that were mentioned were heroin and methamphetamine NOT METHADONE. A patient who is going to a methadone clinic to get help and doing well should not have to defend what they are doing. I guarantee that you could NOT tell the difference between a recovering addict doing well on methadone and a lower Moreland police officer. I feel as though the small majority of these patients who attend this clinic are getting a bad rap and it sucks in my opinion. Addiction is a DISEASE like any other and needs to be treated as such. I know I am of the minority defending a drug clinic but you need to get the facts straight before condemning people who are just trying to help themselves.
kt May 15, 2012 at 09:47 PM
this article is exactly why the resident s of lower moreland fought against discovery house. what are these people from all over doing in this little township anyway. it is a unbelievable that they let that come into such a little township right up the street from the schools. there are plenty of places discovery house could have gone. there is not even any public transportation in lower moreland. no wonder the people are causing accidents. no matter what it is... a methadone clinic does not belong in a small township like lower moreland.... let them go into the neighborhoods that these people are coming from !!!!!
Nicole Barba May 16, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Unfortunately, you are extremely naive if you think that there are no drug addicts who live in Lower Moreland.
kt May 16, 2012 at 07:57 PM
not naive....that is the point...i am sure there are some....and that's enough !!! we don't need any more from out of this township...bad enough we have our own !!! we don't need any from philly or any other surrounding areas...especially from as far as lansdale !!! don't they have a clinic of their own in their own neighborhood ??? oh no..they probably fought against having one in their community !!! stay out of lower moreland...take your drugs and drug related problems somewhere else !!! lower moreland residents pay too much in taxes to have to put up with this !!!
Nicole Barba May 17, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I understand where you are coming from. But there is no easy solution I guess.
Nancy Simmons May 23, 2012 at 09:12 PM
No doubt there are addicts here but not one from our township is listed. That should tell you something. Look again at the areas they come from. We have become a hub. Discovery House is putting our township in jeopardy. It has to go!!!
robert adams June 18, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I don't think Discovery House patients are coming to or hanging around until 4pm or 11 pm on weekends or weekdays in Lower Mooreland. There seems to be a lot of alcohol arrest too. wake up people you had a drug problem at the WaWa before discovery came to town.
LC215 July 13, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Your township was filled with drug addicts LONG before that clinic was around! I am someone who lived in Philly until middle school, then LM through my college years, now I reside in Beautiful Bucks County. Guess what? There are drugs everywhere. The more prestigious the area, the more easily the drugs flow. Also, the harder the drugs. Don't be so naive to say this clinic is ruining your township! There has been hard core drugs & drug addicts in LM for decades.Everyone is so quick to blame Philly Thugs for corrupting LM. As a teen growing up, I seen my friends parents, high profile doctors and lawyers doing lines of coke at Christmas parties. I witnessed some of those same parents bury their children years later. Why? Because the fell victim to drugs and didn't have a place to turn to, like Discovery House. I have relatives that moved their children out of NE Philly to Churchville .... Only to find out that there children would be attending " Heroin High" not the ever glorified Council Rock HS that everyone loves to praise. Nobody ever mentions the
Nicole Barba July 14, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Thank you......I completely agree with you....the fact is the clinic IS there to try and help people, it may not always work but if it helps someone isn't that better than no one?
anita arndt December 07, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I lost it all for what.

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