As promised when he was running for election as district attorney, Gene Vittone said he vowed to crack down on the sale of illegal drugs not just in certain areas but also countywide.
His first step took place Wednesday when 24 people were in custody on drug charges for either having heroin, cocaine and marijuana or possessing drug paraphernalia.
“Today’s arrests are part of an ongoing investigation and effort to eradicate dangerous drugs in all communities comprising Washington County,” Vittone said.
Vittone said the members of the task force work for different police departments in the county.
“Due to the participation of many different jurisdictions, we are able to focus our efforts throughout in the county and work in many different areas,” he added.
The district attorney credited tips from the community.
“Many of the cases which we have today resulted from information given to law enforcement from citizens in the community,” Vittone said, adding that anyone who believes there is illegal drug activity in their neighborhood can call 1-800-281-0070.
Selling illegal drugs has changed in recent years, said Rick Gluth, director of the District Attorney’s Drug Task Force. He said most of those arrested were considered low- to mid-level dealers.
“It is not so much sold just on the street,” Gluth said, explaining that many dealers take calls from prospective buyers who order what they want. The deals then go down in homes or even parking lots.
One of those arrested in the sweep also faces firearms charges. Aaron Lamont Tillman, 33, of 255 1/2 Locust Ave., Washington, faces charges after detectives found a .25-caliber handgun at his residence. Detectives were conducting surveillance at a home at 255 Locust when they noticed people trying to leave the secured area. They searched the home at 255 1/2 Locust and found the gun, as well as suspected crack, police said.
In addition to task force detectives, charges were filed by members of the state police vice unit. Also assisting were Washington County sheriff’s deputies, adult probation and Washington police.
Warrants have been issued for an additional 28 drug suspects.
Arraigned Wednesday morning before District Judge Robert Redlinger on drug-related charges and placed in the Washington County jail on $10,000 bond were Joshua Matthews, 28, Jonathan Finley, 26, Rodney McClung, 25, Christina Oxley, 48, Hope Adams, 43, John Wheeler, 52, Percy Dudley, also known as Percy Williams, 26, Jackie Snyder, 27, Brandon Dyson, 32, Aaron Tillman, 33, Christina Gatten, 34, Devin Garber, 22, John Lindsey, 55, and Kelly Willard, 34, all of Washington; John Reed, 20, and Ryan Morris, 19, both of Claysville; Theodore Takacs, 20, of West Alexander; and Joshua Klezia, 20, and Michael Cridge, 22, both of McDonald. David Piatt, 49, of Washington, was arraigned before Redlinger on a drug paraphernalia charge and released on his own recognizance.
Arraigned before District Judge Larry Hopkins were Ashley Coulson, 23, and Zachary Yocolano, 22, both of Charleroi. Coulson was placed in jail on $35,000 bond, while Yocolano was jailed on $50,000 bond.
Two others wanted on warrants are incarcerated in other facilities. Brittani Cottrell, 25, of Washington, is in State Correctional Institute-Muncy. Brandon Allen, 23, of Washington, is in the Allegheny County jail.