Three men have been accused of running a multimillion-dollar meth ring in what law enforcement dubbed Operation Mexican Ice, state Attorney General Tom Corbett said yesterday.
Adalberto "Nanao" Morales, 37, Rafael Torres-Aguilar, 40, and Emmanuel Pimentel-Mejia, 25, were arrested in April after the 10-month investigation and are being charged with distributing crystal methamphetamine in Philadelphia and Bucks, Chester, Camden, and Burlington Counties.
Accompanied by local law enforcement officials, Corbett said the $2.5 million operation, which ran from Mexico to Philadelphia, had distributed large quantities of crystal meth that was "pure, more addictive, and smokeable."
"They know there is a demand for methamphetamine in Pennsylvania," Corbett said. "That's why they targeted this area. It's Economics 101."
The case was placed before a statewide grand jury, which yesterday recommended charges that included violations of the controlled-substances and drug acts and criminal conspiracy. The case will be prosecuted in Chester County by Deputy Attorney General Andrew Rongaus of the attorney general's Drug Strike Force Section.
On April 2, agents executed a search warrant at Morales' home in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. In the basement, Corbett said, they found Pimental-Mejia and a stash of crystal meth, heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine valued together at $665,000.
Police also recovered drug paraphernalia, more than $5,500, and guns, Corbett said.
After the raid, police arrested Torres-Aguilar leaving a motel in Philadelphia.
Police believe Torres-Aguilar drove the meth, which originated in Mexico, from Atlanta to Morales and Pimentel-Mejia for distribution, Corbett said.
The three men are not U.S. citizens and have "immigration issues," Rongaus said.
Corbett said Morales was the meth ring's main supplier, providing 28 pounds over seven months and charging $16,000 to $20,000 per pound.
The organization includes more than 40 lower-level members who are part of a continuing investigation, Corbett said. He called the three arrests "the first step in dismantling this organization. And we will not stop until everyone involved is arrested."