Police arrested 10 people for drug possession and distribution offenses, marking the second phase in the dismantling of a heroin ring operating in Centre and Lycoming counties, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced Thursday.
Evidence and testimony regarding the alleged drug network was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges.
The grand jury found a New York heroin and cocaine source was living in Pleasant Gap and using residents to make drug deliveries in the State College and Williamsport areas, according to prosecutors. Investigators said agents used court-ordered wiretaps to determine area users and dealers were also getting heroin from contacts in Philadelphia and Williamsport.
The grand jury found the suspects allegedly used various codes to identify the drugs, including "down" for heroin, "up" for cocaine and "bun" or "bunny rabbit" for a bundle of heroin, which equals 10 bags.
The investigation into the bulk heroin trafficking began in March 2012. In addition to the most recent arrests, nine people were taken into custody in March 2013. Prosecutors said Thursday the investigation remained ongoing and more arrests were anticipated.
Kane said in a release the arrests do not appear to be related to the recent rash of heroin overdose deaths in Western Pennsylvania, which have been connected to drugs laced with the powerful opiate painkiller fentanyl. The tainted heroin is estimated to have claimed at least 22 lives within the space of a week last month.
Still, Kane said the arrests "are indicative of the very real threat heroin poses in rural communities across the Commonwealth."
All 10 cases will be prosecuted in Centre County by senior deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard of the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force Section.
Anyone with drug-related information is asked to call the Centre County Drug Tip Task Force Hotline at 1-877-898-3784.