A drug ring that sold nearly $10 million worth of heroin and cocaine in Altoona and Johnstown is no longer operating following a bust on Monday.
Police arrested 16 people as part the “Dragon Heroin Pipeline,” which officials say were running drugs from Philadelphia to Blair and Cambria counties.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the investigation focused on 40-year-old Damon “Fat Cat” Devine, of Philadelphia. About 780,000 bags of heroin with a dragon stamp were sold over the last 13 months.
“We took down the top dealer,” said Shapiro. “Devine was the top guy, and I think that’s going to make for a positive impact on the streets and in the community.”
The investigation was part of a broader crackdown on the continuing opioid epidemic, Shapiro said. Overdose deaths in the state rose to around 4,600 last year, according to a recent report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Still, Shapiro said it doesn’t matter to people living in the communities and neighborhoods impacted by those drugs if the “top guy” was caught; they just want the drugs out of their neighborhoods.
“And that is what we’re focused on every day, getting these illegal drugs out of the neighborhoods and beginning to turn around these overdose death statistics and beginning to make our community more safe and more secure,” he said.
The investigation was a joint operation between the AG’s office; the district attorneys for Blair, Cambria and Montgomery counties; drug task forces in Blair and Cambria counties; police forces serving Altoona and Johnstown; and the Pennsylvania State Police.