WEDNESDAY WAS a bad day for two Philadelphia men traveling through the First State.
Delaware State Police made two high-yield drug busts, about six hours and 35 miles apart, officials said. In the wake of those incidents, the two Philly men are behind bars, and an estimated $530,000 worth of heroin is off the streets.
"This is an unusually large amount," said Cpl. John Day, a police spokesman. "Obviously this is . . . a very large quantity of drugs with the intent to distribute them; this goes way beyond personal use."
Initial evidence doesn't indicate that the two incidents and suspects are connected, Day said. But they are prime examples of a growing problem facing Delaware: Elevated drug traffic as dealers make their way between Philly and New Jersey and points farther south.
A law-enforcement source investigating the region's drug trade said yesterday that dealers are becoming more mobile, traveling as far as West Virginia to sling dope.
Their wares are more scarce in rural communities, so they often can charge twice what the stuff goes for in Philly or Camden, the source said.
Which may explain what Michael Chandler was doing Wednesday.
Chandler, 35, was pulled over just after 3:30 p.m. by Delaware State Police on Route 1 in Middletown, according to Day.
Chandler allegedly had been speeding, and while the trooper discussed the driver's rate of speed, his K-9 partner's sense of smell kicked in.
A search of Chandler's trunk yielded more than 83 grams of cocaine and a freezer bag of pure heroin, valued at more than $400,000, Day said.
He faces various drug charges, and remained in police custody last night on $1.3 million bail.
A few hours after Chandler was pulled over, a state trooper in Claymont flagged down Luis Garcia Valle, 22, allegedly driving recklessly on a back road, Day said.
Police say Garcia Valle, showed "suspicious behavior" during his chat with the officers, and for good reason: A hidden compartment in his Mercedes held 13,006 bags of heroin (worth about $130,000) and nearly $7,000.
Like Chandler, Garcia Valle remained in police custody last night on drug charges, and his bail was set at $1.3 million, Day said.
The Philly addresses of the two men were not immediately available.
- Staff writer Morgan Zalot contributed to this report.