Authorities filed nearly 250 arrest warrants and seized hundreds of bags of various drugs and about $48,000 following a sting operation in Delaware County.
The defendants, who police say sold drugs on the streets of Darby Borough, were apprehended after dozens of undercover purchase operations following a flood of complaints from community residents.
Most of the dealers identified were selling marijuana, but many also sold heroin, pills and meth, officials said.
“They’re taking peoples’ lives, and they know what they’re doing. They’re procurers of death,” Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe said at a news conference. “They’re selling death. Sooner or later it’s gonna get you. And they’re making a fortune out of it.”
Dubbing the raid “Operation Spring Cleaning,” Smythe said he thinks the sweep should slow the sale of narcotics in the community of some 10,000 people.
“Since we’ve taken them off the corners, things are going to slow down,” he said. “The drug dealers are going to be somewhat cautious.”
Just about 80 suspects were in custody so far, but the remaining warrants are expected to be bring in many more in the coming days.
“I don’t believe that any of these people are what you would call major dealers. Most of these people are street sales people,” Smythe said.
In the first quarter of the year, 120 people in Delaware County died from heroin or fentanyl overdoses, authorities said.
“We are seeing a problem,” said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan. “Heroin dealers substituting fentanyl for heroin, which is a more powerful form, and that’s why we’re seeing so much death.”
State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, who spoke at the news conference, said the crackdown announced Thursday is just the beginning of ramped-up drug-related prosecutions in the area.
“So if you’ve decided that this is your lifestyle, I suggest that you change your lifestyle,” said Williams, D-Philadelphia. “We’re no longer going to tolerate it in Darby, or any place else.”
Federal law enforcement agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice partnered with officials in Delaware County as part of the investigation.