Damon “Fat Cat” Devine, 40, of Philadelphia has been arrested and charged with operating a multimillion-dollar drug ring. (Provided) 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced this week that a statewide investigation of a Philadelphia man has led to the arrests of 16 suspected drug dealers and the confiscation of more than $7.8 million in heroin and $1.9 million in cocaine.

 

Law enforcement officials announced Monday that the investigation focused on Damon “Fat Cat” Devine, 40, of N. 60th Street in Philadelphia and bags of heroin labeled “Dragon” that, police said, Devine’s criminal operation sold and transported throughout the state.

 

“This investigation involved dealers who transported large amounts of heroin and cocaine from Philadelphia to Altoona and Johnstown,” Attorney General Shapiro said in a statement. “Our work with [Blair County] District Attorney [Rich] Consiglio and other state and local law enforcement agencies led to the dismantling of a major drug pipeline into Blair and Cambria counties. We will remain merciless with the dealers peddling these poisons in our communities.”

 

Police said that the investigation included officials from the Office of the Attorney General, the district attorneys of Blair, Cambria and Montgomery counties, Altoona and Johnstown police, Pennsylvania State Police, and the Blair and Cambria County Drug Task Forces.

 

The investigation into Devine’s alleged criminal empire began back in August 2016 when, police said, Devine was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed after a Pennsylvania state trooper attempted to pull it over for traffic violations.

 

After a chase from Philadelphia to Montgomery County, law enforcement officials said the vehicle crashed and police discovered 3,750 heroin baggies stamped “Dragon” and 127 grams of cocaine in the vehicle.

Devine was arrested, at that time, but police said, nine days later, Devine posted bail and continued to operate his alleged drug organization.

After making several “controlled buys” from individuals that, police said, were members of Devine’s alleged criminal organization in February outside an Altoona motel, Devine was arrested with 651 bags of “Dragon” heroin in his possession.

In total, law enforcement officials say that they seized 14,890 bags of heroin with an estimated street value of nearly $150,000 during their probe, in addition to nearly half a pound of cocaine.

In addition to ring leader Devine, police have arrested 15 others, all charged with possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy and related charges:

-          Aaron Beard, 50, of 19th St., Altoona

-          Melissa Coleman, 43, of Stackhouse St., Johnstown

-          James Everett-Bey, 40, of Hunter Street, Philadelphia

-          Richard Govier, 39, of W Main St., Stoystown

-          Kristy Hicks, 38, of 29th St., Altoona

-          Kara Kirby-Horner, 35, of Campbell Ave., Johnstown

-          Blaine Jackson, 40, of Chandler Ave., Johnstown

-          Jaime Madden, 52, of Franklin St., Johnstown

-          Jasmine McGowan, 27, of Cypress Ave., Johnstown

-          James Miller, 28, of Ihmsen Ave., Johnstown

-          Jabu Robinson, 37, of W Wyneva St., Philadelphia

-          Phillip Stevens, 30, of Cherry Ave., Altoona

-          Travis Taylor, 39, of 1st Ave., Altoona

-          Brieon Thurston, 35, of Lenhart St., Johnstown

-          Barbara Tyler, 58, of Greenwood Ave., Trenton, NJ

Based on the investigation and testimony in front of the grand jury, law enforcement officials believe that Devine’s alleged criminal organization sold $7.8 million in heroin and $1.9 million in cocaine and crack cocaine over 13 months from January 2016 to February 2017.  

“These arrests will go a long way in slowing down the availability of cocaine and heroin in Blair and Cambria counties,” said Consiglio, in a statement. “This is another example of law enforcement reaching higher in the food chain to cut off the supply of poison to our communities.”