Economics 101: supply and demand.
That's what authorities said drove three men, two of whom were from Philadelphia, to target the city and its surrounding areas with the sale of methamphetamine.
"It is becoming increasingly and alarmingly pervasive," said Attorney General Tom Corbett. "Meth is an extremely dangerous, addictive drug. The demand has not diminished over time and in fact it has gotten stronger."
Yesterday, Corbett announced the arrests of Adalberto Morales, 37, and Emmanuel Pimentel-Mejia, 25, both of Potter Street near Bristol, in Juniata, and Rafael Torres-Aguilar, 40, with last-known addresses in Georgia and California. Authorities said the three are in the country illegally.
The arrests stemmed from a 10-month investigation dubbed "Operation Mexican Ice" by the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, Corbett said.
The $2.5 million operation ran from Mexico to Atlanta to Philadelphia. Torres-Aguilar transported the drugs and delivered them to Morales and Pimentel-Mejia, authorities said.
Morales was the main supplier to about 40 mid- and lower-level members of a multifaceted drug-distribution enterprise, Corbett said.
According to the authorities, once the lower-level members bought meth from Morales for between $16,000 to $20,000 a pound, they would resell it to users throughout Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester counties, and New Jersey.
Corbett said that the other members of the organization and the roles they played are part of an ongoing investigation.
"The three men arrested today are the first step in dismantling this organization, and we will not stop until everyone has been arrested," Corbett said.
When authorities executed a search warrant on Morales' home April 2, they seized about 5.5 pounds of crystal meth worth about $500,000; 3.2 ounces of heroin worth about $31,000; 2.2 ounces of cocaine worth about $97,000; 13 ounces of crack cocaine worth about $37,000; about $5,500 in cash; and various weapons, authorities said.
Charges of violations of the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act; criminal conspiracy; dealing in unlawful proceeds, and related offenses were filed Tuesday upon the recommendation of a grand jury, authorities said.
The three men will be tried in Chester County, Corbett said.