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$3M worth of heroin seized, 3 arrested in major Philly drug bust

The state and federal operation follows an uptick in heroin-related overdoses in the city late last year.

State and federal law enforcement authorities have broken up a major drug ring and confiscated $3 million worth of heroin, the Philedelphia District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Arrested were two men, Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes, 30 and Johel Pascal-Mateo,26; and one woman, Zamary Roldan, also 26. They face charges for possession with the intent to deliver and conspiracy. Each could face up to 60 years in prison.

The Philadelphia Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration led the operation, in which 13 kilograms of heroin with a street value of more than $3 million was seized, authorities said.

In his statement District Attorney Seth Williams noted the recent deaths of several people in the city from "'bad’ heroin." Williams added that "even though we don’t yet know if the heroin that came from this bust was or was not laced with deadly chemicals, it still sends a clear message" to dealers.

Late last year, so-called "bad batches" of heroin was blamed fordozens of overdoses and severaldeaths in the Kensington area.

Authorities said Alavarez-Mercedes and Pascal-Mateo had planned to transport the heroin to New York City, where it would be sold.

Gary Tuggle, agent in charge of the DEA's Philadelphia division, said the city and the state have seen "the loss of thousands of lives over the past few years due to fatal drug overdoses — the majority of which are the result of heroin."

 

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