Washington Co. DA, state police carry out drug sweep

Most cases involve heroin in largest sweep in the county

February 26, 2014
State Trooper Stefani Plume discusses a large drug sweep Wednesday at a news conference also attended by Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone, right, and state police Lt. Jeff Fisher. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The Washington County district attorney's office and state police, armed with 88 arrest warrants, Wednesday carried out what investigators believed was the largest drug sweep in the county's history.

By early afternoon, police had served 55 warrants in the cases that mostly involved heroin and more than one orchestrated drug purchase per suspect, police and District Attorney Eugene A. Vittone said at a news conference.

Drug Warrant List Page 4

“Today, we've made a huge stride towards taking care of the drug dealers who are operating on our streets,” Vittone said, adding that arrests were being made throughout the county.

He said most of the suspects were facing felony charges. Arrests were still being made as police and Vittone announced the sweep at 1 p.m., and they continued into the afternoon. The oldest suspect is 70 years old, while the youngest is 18 years old. Some of the suspects, meanwhile, were already being detained in county jails in other cases or serving sentences in state prisons.

“I want to get the message out there we're serious about this,” Vittone said. “Some of these folks are dangerous individuals.”

There were many suspects arrested from Northern Washington County, he said.

“It's a welcome development to the people up there.”

He said the sweep was related to plans discussed Feb. 19 at a meeting on the prescription drug and heroin epidemic attended by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and U.S. Attorney David Hickton.

The investigation also stemmed from a report by Washington County Coroner Tim Warco that his office investigated a record number of more than 60 overdose deaths last year, Vittone said.

The sweep also produced evidence that will lead to additional arrests, state Trooper Stefani Plume said.

Plume said several of the suspects were known to police.

“We're looking into multiple leads into other cases as well,” she said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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