Canonsburg man arrested in drug bust

May 10, 2013
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Kathie Warco / Observer-Reporter
Joshua K. Thomas is led from court Friday after being arraigned on drug and weapons charges. Police raided Thomas’ home in Canonsburg earlier in the day. Order a Print
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Police seized these firearms Friday in a raid at the Canonsburg home of Joshua K. Thomas.

CANONSBURG – A morning raid Friday by Canonsburg police along with the Washington County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force and Washington Regional SWAT team ended with the arrest of a Canonsburg man and confiscation of cocaine and guns.

Joshua K. Thomas, 34, of 29 W. College St., was arrested after a search warrant signed by Judge John DiSalle was served at his home just after 6 a.m. when members of the SWAT team announced their presence and made entry.

Inside the house, police and task force detectives found two bags of suspected cocaine, a digital scale, marijuana, pipes and other paraphernalia. Thomas reportedly gave police a written statement indicating he started selling cocaine around Christmas. He was selling the drug for $60 a gram and sold about 1 1/2 ounces over a 10-day period. There are about 28 grams in an ounce.

Also found inside the house were a shotgun, .22-caliber rifle, .357-caliber handgun, assault rifle and Ruger and Glock handguns. Thomas admitted to Detective Charles Tenny and Trooper Tim Motte that they were his guns. In April 1999, Thomas pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a weapon after charges including attempted homicide were withdrawn in connection with a Dec. 22, 1997, shooting in Claysville. As a result of the conviction, Thomas is not permitted to possess a firearm.

Police said the exact nature of the initial investigation is confidential. The affidavit of probable cause regarding the search warrant remains sealed.

Mayor David Rhome said Canonsburg police want to be proactive and aggressive when it comes to drug investigations.

“Ninety percent of crimes in our community goes back to drugs,” Rhome said. “If we get rid of the majority of the problem, then the rest goes away.”

Chief R.T. Bell said the drug problem is not unique to Canonsburg.

“Drugs are in every other community in this county,” Bell said. “We are doing everything we can to handle the problem. This is our No. 1 focus. Safety of our residents is what is important.”

Bell said all law enforcement agencies are on the same page in wanting to deal with the drug problem.

“This operation is a continuing part of our efforts to investigate and prosecute dangerous drug dealers in all parts of Washington County,” said District Attorney Gene Vittone. “I am particularly thankful to see that the police have taken many firearms in connection with this raid.”

Also assisting were North Strabane Township police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Thomas was arraigned before District Judge David Mark on charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of paraphernalia and persons not to possess a firearm. He was placed in the Washington County jail on $250,000 bond. A preliminary hearing will be held May 22 before Mark.

A woman living in the house with Thomas was not taken into custody Friday, police said.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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