More arrests possible in West Mt. Airy meth ring

Officials with the Narcotics Field Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department said this week that more individuals could be arrested in connection to a recent drug-bust in the West Mt. Airy section of the the city.

On June 23, Warren Layre, James McIntyre, Cecilia Silverwood, Brian Timer and Thomas Basara were arrested at 529–35 W. Sedgwick St. for allegedly participating in a crystal methamphetamine operation.

The five were charged with possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, a felony.

The following day police seized $181,200 worth of crystal meth, $34,000 in cash and three firearms at the West Mt. Airy locale.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officers returned and recovered an additional $81,900 worth of crystal meth from the garage of the West Sedgwick Street building. Steroids and a substantial amount of fireworks were also seized. 

In addition, police seized $355,244 in cash from Layre and nearly 20 firearms from his Conshohocken home, bringing the total cash collected in the case to $389,244.

“This was not an operating methamphetamine lab,” said Narcotics officer Lt. Robert Otto of the Mt. Airy garage. “This was a product that was already cooked up and was simply being distributed from this location.”

Otto described the quintette as “midlevel” employees and said Thursday that “there may be more people that we’re looking at.”

In the meantime, a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 15, according to Lynne O’Brien, Assistant District Attorney with the Dangerous Drug-Offender Unit.

McIntyre, Timer, Basara and Layre will wait for that court date behind bars. Silverwood was released on bail.

O’Brien, who will prosecute the case, said each offender is facing a minimum of five to 10 years in prison, the mandatory sentence when guns and drugs are in the same picture. Otto said he’d “be surprised if that’s all they get.”


Neighbors respond to the meth ring

Some nearby neighbors were surprised to learn of the activities that were unfolding on their block. Others said it was just part of living in a big city.

Erica Brendel lives a couple doors away from the garage and was home when the offenders were arrested. The long-time resident wasn’t completely surprised as she watched police pull up in June.

“There have been some unsavory looking characters hanging out around the garage,” said Brendel, who added that police have responded to noise complaints there in the past.

Brendel said she never saw anything that led her to suspect there was any drug activity at the property.

Corinthia Cohen, Brendel’s near neighbor, did have some suspicions about the property, but was shocked to learn there was a criminal element so close-by.

“I didn’t have a clue. It’s horrible,” said Cohen, who only saw the garage open at night.

“It’s really out of character for the block,” she said.

But Lt. Otto said that fact is likely the reason this group set up shop in the leafy Northwest neighborhood.

“What we’re finding is that a lot of people are looking for quiet, secluded areas that would be off our normal radar. And this is a perfect example of that,” he said.

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