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Three arrested in $3.3 million heroin bust

(From left) Zamary L. Roldan

(From left) Zamary L. Roldan

A Philadelphia couple and a Dominican national have been arrested in a $3.3 million drug bust authorities say is one of the largest in city history.

Narcotics detectives had been watching the couple’s home in the city’s Castor Gardens area when they saw a mother her carry her baby, diaper bag, purse and mysterious container into her car on January 24th, according to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who announced the bust this morning.

0DEAdrugbustSETHx600Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announces a $3.3 million heroin bust. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Officers searched the car and found 18.4 pounds of heroin in the container, $5,000 in cash, and four racks of heroin-filled glassine packets, Williams said. Police then searched the house in the 7100 block of Bingham Street and found another half-kilogram of heroin, packaging materials, scales ledgers, passports and $1,300 in counterfeit bills inside, Williams added.

Meanwhile, officers had stopped the woman’s boyfriend Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes, 30, as he drove nearby and found a box containing about three kilograms of heroin, Williams said. Investigators determined Alavarez-Mercedes had plotted with Johel Pascal-Mateo, 30, to transport the drugs to New York, where they would be sold, Williams said. Police seized $485 from Pascal-Mateo, he added.

The bust gets “close to a half million doses of heroin off the street,” Williams said.

“The majority of the people we arrest daily are street dealers selling the small packets,” Williams said. “We have to stop them of course, because we do not want people selling that poison on our streets. It is much more difficult to confiscate such large quantities.”

The mother Zamary L. Roldan, 26, Alavarez-Mercedes, and Johel Pascal-Mateo were held on $5 million bail, each, on felony drug and conspiracy charges, said Melissa Francis, assistant district attorney in the dangerous drug offender unit. If convicted, each faces about 60 years in prison, according to the DA’s Office.

Roldan and Alavarez-Mercedes are U.S. citizens, and Pascal-Mateo is a Dominican national, Williams said.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration participated in the investigation.

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