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Schuylkill County News

11 Nabbed Friday as Part of Minersville’s Operation Clean Sweep; 6 Remain Wanted

Woman arrested Friday was home health care worker allegedly providing meth to patient.

Seventeen people were arrested on Friday morning in Schuylkill County on drug and prostitution charges.

Eleven people were taken into custody on Friday in Schuylkill County on drug and prostitution charges in what’s being called Operation Clean Sweep.

Authorities are still looking for 6 more people who had warrants for their arrest issued against them this week.

Among those arrested on Friday includes a woman working as a home health care worker who was allegedly providing meth to a patient of hers.

All the arrests were done as part of investigations conducted throughout the year in Minersville.

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Operation Clean Sweep was a 5-month investigation of drug trafficking and prostitution in the borough.

The investigation was led by Minersville Police Dept. It was helped by Port Carbon Police Dept., Schuylkill County Housing Authority, and Coal Region Consulting & Investigations.

Operation Clean Sweep in Minersville Results in Charges Against 17 People

Sixteen of the people charged in Operation Clean Sweep allegedly participated in the drug trade in Minersville. Many are facing charges of dealing heroin or fentanyl. One woman was charged with selling Suboxone, and another person is charged with selling prescription painkillers.

One person is facing marijuana charges. And a woman is also facing a charge of prostitution in the borough.

Officers from Minersville, Port Carbon, Ashland, and Cass Township assisted in rounding up suspects. They were also helped by the Schuylkill County Sheriff’s Dept. and Coal Region Consulting & Investigations, which works on behalf of Schuylkill County Housing Authority.

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Minersville PD Sgt. Jeffrey Bowers says anyone with more information on the trafficking of narcotics in the borough should contact the Police Dept. there.

Home Health Care Worker Allegedly Gave Meth to Patient

Here’s a look at why each of the 17 were either arrested and taken into custody or remain wanted on Friday:

Jessica Locke, 42, Ashland

Jessica Locke

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • (Misdemeanor) Neglect of a care-dependent person

In May, police learned Jessica Locke was allegedly providing meth to a wheelchair-bound patient of hers living at the Minersville Hi-Rise building. 

Locke, an affidavit shows, was employed by Comfort Keepers as a home health care worker.

Earlier this year, in April, this same patient was found incoherent and on the floor of her residence at the Hi-Rise building. Minersville PD and EMS personnel had to force their way into the resident’s home to provide her aid. 

That patient told police and EMS that she’d taken meth and that Locke gave it to her. She also reportedly told those attending to her that day that Locke repeatedly provided her with meth while she was there as a home health care worker.

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With this information, police and a private security unit used by Schuylkill County Housing Authority launched a joint investigation into this matter.

In May, a buy was set up with Locke at the Hi-Rise apartment where she was supposed to be caring for that patient.. Locke told an informant working with Coal Region Consulting & Investigations that the price for meth was $20 a bag. 

The informant said to bring the meth to the patient’s apartment at the Hi-Rise on May 3 at about 9:15 p.m. Locke reportedly did and the informant handed her $20. Locke originally said the informant could have the meth for free but then took the $20 anyway.

That led to another controlled buy at the same apartment early last month. 

On Aug. 2, Locke was once again told to bring some meth to her Hi-Rise patient. Locke reportedly told the informant that the price of the meth this time was $40 per gram or $100 for an 8-ball. The informant told Locke to bring the 8-ball.

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Bowers says he dropped the informant off at the Hi-Rise and waited for Locke to arrive. When she did, Locke reportedly asked the informant if they wanted the 8-ball, which the informant confirmed. The money and suspected meth exchanged hands.

Locke was sent to Schuylkill County Prison on $25,000 bail on each of the two cases against her.

Diwanna Parker (aka Momma D), 38, Minersville

Diwanna Parker

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

Police say they used an undercover officer in April of this year to make a controlled purchase of heroin off Parker.

Bowers says in arrest papers that he learned Parker had heroin for sale for $100. That $100 would get a buyer a single bundle containing 10 individual bags of heroin.

On April 11, at about 7:30 p.m., police arranged to meet with Parker in the area of Lewis and Sixth streets. The officer reports giving Parker $100 and getting 10 baggies or 1 bundle of wax paper baggies filled with what police believe is heroin or fentanyl.

Parker reportedly told the undercover officer that she’d have 2 more bundles for sale the next morning.

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Bowers says he was acting as surveillance nearby during this controlled buy. After completing the deal, Bowers says he met with the officer and noted that a stamp on the bag purchased in the deal was marked “Major League”.

The next morning, on April 12 at about 11:50, the undercover officer met Parker near the Minersville Laundromat on Sunbury St.

The meeting happened and the officer drove Parker to her residence at 676 Sunbury St. That’s when the undercover officer handed Parker $200 to get two bundles of heroin from her. Parker went into her home to get the drugs and came out to the undercover’s vehicle and handed him the drugs, the arrest papers note.

Bowers said he met with the undercover officer again after this controlled buy and noted that the stamp on the bag this time read “Good Pussy”.

Parker was sent to Schuylkill County Prison on $50,000 straight bail on each of the cases against her.

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Jason Moran, 47, Minersville

Jason Moran

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

On June 12 of this year, Bowers says he met with a reliable confidential informant who said Jason Moran, of Minersville, was selling a half-ounce of meth for $275.

At about 8 p.m. that night, an undercover Minersville police officer was given $275 in cash and left on foot to Moran’s residence at 111 Sunbury St. in the borough. 

It was there that the undercover officer reported meeting Moran and another unidentified man. About 20 minutes later, the undercover officer says he gave the cash to Moran, who then exchanged it for a clear resealable bag containing suspected meth.

The undercover officer then met with Bowers and gave him the suspected meth.

Two days later, on June 14, Bowers again met with a reliable informant who said Moran was selling a quarter-ounce of meth for $200. Later that night, just as it happened two days prior, an undercover officer was given that much cash and walked to meet Moran at his Sunbury St. residence.

Moran told the undercover officer that he wanted to meet them at St. Vincent’s Cemetery, at the rear of the 500 block of Sunbury St. That’s where the officer handed Moran $200 and got back a green resealable bag containing suspected meth.

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Moran was sent to Schuylkill County Prison on $15,000 bail on each of the two cases against him.

Alicia Jones, 39, Homeless

Alicia Jones

Charges:

  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Forgery
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

Police learned that Alicia Jones was reportedly selling heroin or fentanyl at $40 for a half-gram. An undercover Minersville police officer made arrangements to make a purchase of this drug from Jones on July 20 of this year.

That evening, the undercover officer met Jones in the area of the borough’s Dollar General store and handed the $40 to Jones. Jones reportedly told the undercover agent that she had to go to Shenandoah to pick up the drugs and would return with it.

Later on, Jones returned to Minersville and arranged to meet the undercover officer at the rear of 43 S. Delaware Ave. Jones allegedly handed a bag containing the suspected heroin or fentanyl. She reportedly told the officer, “Be careful, it’s spicy.”

A short time later, Jones was nabbed during a traffic stop in Minersville. During that stop, Jones was reportedly holding a fake $50 bill and a pair of fake $100 bills.

Testing later revealed that the drugs Jones reportedly sold to the undercover agent contained heroin or fentanyl.

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Jones was sent to Schuylkill County Prison on $35,000 straight bail.

Mary Jane Strausser, 61, Minersville

Mary Jane Strausser

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of drug paraphernalia

On May 26 of this year, Bowers says he learned Mary Jane Strausser was allegedly selling Suboxone films at a price of $10 each. Bowers says police made arrangements to purchase 7 of these films at a total cost of $70.

Minersville PD used an undercover agent to make the purchase. The agent was given $70 and went to Strausser’s residence at 300 Lewis St. At about 6:30 that night, Strausser met the undercover officer in the lobby of that apartment building and exchanged the 7 films for the $70, police say.

The next evening, police arranged to purchase 10 more Suboxone films from Strausser. An undercover agent was given $100 to make this purchase. Strausser said to meet her this night near the corner of Lewis and Third streets in Minersville.

That’s where Strausser, who was in a wheelchair, met with the undercover agent and exchanged the money for the Suboxone films.

Strausser was released on $10,000 unsecured bail on each of the two cases against her.

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Leslie Tapia, 38, Minersville

Leslie Tapia

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

On May 26, police learned that Leslie Tapia was selling heroin or fentanyl. A bundle of it cost $70 and he made arrangements to purchase some acting as an undercover agent himself.

A little before 5 p.m. that afternoon, Tapia approached an undercover vehicle Bowers was using. He handed her $140 for 2 bundles of the drugs she was selling. Bowers says he received 2 resealable bags with an “off-white powder” inside them.

When he got back to Minersville PD headquarters, Bowers says he tested the powder and it turned up positive for fentanyl. 

A little later, Tapia reportedly said she misunderstood how much the undercover Bowers wanted to buy and that he overpaid her. She told him to go to the rear of 106 Sunbury St. At about 5:15 p.m., the two met and she apparently handed him more of the suspected same drug and $70 cash.

A few days later, on May 29, Bowers says he learned that Tapia was selling 2 bags of heroin or fentanyl for $40. He arranged to meet her at the rear of 106 Sunbury St.

Like a few days before, Tapia approached Bowers’ undercover vehicle and swapped the drugs for the cash, he reports.

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Tapia was sent to Schuylkill County Prison on $50,000 straight bail on each of the two cases against her.

Michael Ridgley, 53, Minersville

Michael Ridgley

Charges:

  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

Police learned through an informant that Michael Ridgley was selling meth at $100 for an 8-ball.

The informant was given $100 in cash and arranged to meet Ridgley in the unit block of S. Delaware Ave. of Minersville. A meeting with Ridgley reportedly happened just before 1 p.m. Ridgley and the informant walked from their meeting spot to in front of 43 S. Delaware Ave and sat on a bench.

The informant gave Ridgley the $100 and Ridgley gave him the drugs, suspected of being meth. Ridgley also gave the informant $20 in change and told them that it was “less than a ball.”

Ridgley was sent to Schuylkill County Prison on $15,000 straight bail on each of the cases against him.

Mildred Scarano, 64, Minersville

Mildred Scarano

Charges:

  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

On June 30, police learned through a reliable informant that Mildred Scarano was selling Percocet painkiller pills at 8 for $50. That informant said Scarano wanted to meet at the bottom of Spruce St. in Minersville, near Westwood St., to complete the deal.

At about 3 p.m. that day, an undercover agent was given $50 and they along with the informant went to the meeting spot to get the pills from Scarano. Nearly 20 minutes later, the undercover officer and Scarano exchanged cash for pills. The pills were in an orange pill bottle.

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On July 26, another controlled buy between an undercover agent and Scarano was arranged. This time, $70 was given to Scarano in exchange for 11 oxycodone pills. That was 2 more pills than originally agreed to when the arrangements to meet were made, according to arrest papers.

Scarano was released on $15,000 unsecured bail on each of the cases against her.

Bianca McCabe, 22, Ashland

Bianca McCabe

Charges:

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

Police learned on July 3 of this year that Bianca McCabe was reportedly selling heroin or fentanyl at $85 per gram.

Later that day, an undercover police officer was given the cash to make a buy from McCabe. The informant and McCabe drove toward the rear of 43 S. Delaware Ave. in Minersville. In the parking lot there, McCabe got out of the vehicle and walked behind the building to meet the undercover officer.

The agent gave McCabe $85 and she reportedly told them that she’d be back with the drugs. About a half-hour later, McCabe returned and handed the undercover officer a quantity of drugs.

McCabe then reportedly reached into her bra and pulled out another bag of suspected heroin or fentanyl and handed it to the officer. She reportedly said the additional bag was “from her personal stash.”

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McCabe then allegedly warned the officer, “Whatever you do, only do half of what you normally do. This stuff is strong.” She also said, “You did not see me here.”

McCabe remains wanted by police.

Sonya Spicher, 53, No Fixed Address Known

Sonya Spicher

Charges

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of drug paraphernalia

Richard Bealer, 41, No Fixed Address Known

Richard Bealer

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of drug paraphernalia

Police say a reliable informant let him know that Sonya Spicher was selling meth at $50 per bag.

Just before noon on July 10 this year, an undercover Minersville PD officer was given $50 and left to meet Spicher at 135 Sunbury St.

Once inside an apartment at that address, the undercover officer was met by Spicher and Richard Bealer. The two parties exchanged cash for suspected meth. Bealer handed the meth to the undercover officer.

The undercover officer asked where they could score some heroin. That’s when Bealer allegedly told the officer that he could get it and it cost $80.

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Spicher and Bealer both remain wanted by police.

Sonja Karkanica, 35, Minersville

Sonja Karkanica

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

A confidential informant reportedly told police that Sonja Karkanica was selling heroin or fentanyl for $100 a bundle. A bundle equaled about 10 bags, arrest papers indicate. That informant also said Karkanica was currently in Butler Township, Schuylkill County, and needed a ride back to her Minersville home to get the drugs to sell.

So, on June 28, at about 7 p.m., an undercover Minersville police officer was given $100 in marked cash and they along with the informant rode to Butler Township to pick up Karkanica. By about 7:20 that night, the two picked up Karkanica and went to her home.

About 20 minutes later, she was given the $100 and Karkanica walked around to the corner of the 200 block of Carbon St. in Minersville. 

At 8 p.m., Karkanica came back and gave the undercover officer a large bag containing what they believed was fentanyl or heroin. Karkanica reportedly warned, “be careful … strong stuff.”

A test of the drugs Karkanica sold them was positive for fentanyl, Bowers notes in his arrest papers.

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The next night, an informant and undercover officer performed the same routine, this time paying $120 for the drugs. This time, they went to the area of 43 S. Delaware Ave. in Minersville and handed her the money. 

Karkanica reportedly gave them the drugs but the bundle she gave them was short 1 of the 10 bags inside. She reportedly said, “I took 1 bag.”

UPDATE: Karkanica was taken into custody on Friday after a search warrant was issued for her home.

Shakera Sharpe, 33, Homeless

Shakera Sharpe

Charges:

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia

During April of this year, it was learned that Shakera Sharpe was selling meth at $125 for an 8-ball. 

On the 12th of that month, an undercover Minersville police officer was sent to the Minersville housing projects with cash to make a purchase off Sharpe. At a little after 1 p.m. that day, the officer met with Sharpe and handed her the cash. Sharpe reportedly told the undercover agent that she’d be back shortly. About 10 minutes later, she did, handing them a bag containing a suspected 8-ball of meth.

About an hour later on that day, records show the police setting up another buy with Sharpe in the same general location, this time for $130.

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Sharpe remains wanted by police.

Stardashia Gerald, Minersville

Stardashia Gerald

Charge: 

  • (Misdemeanor) Prostitution and related offenses

Earlier this month, on Sept. 7, an informant told Minersville PD that Stardashia Gerald was working as a prostitute from her home at 513 Pine Hill St. in the borough. 

Gerald’s rates were $120 for 20 minutes or $300 for a full hour of “sexual activity,” according to court documents filed against her.

Arrangements were made by an undercover Minersville police officer to meet Gerald in her home. At about 7:30 that night, the undercover agent was met by Gerald outside her residence and led him inside.

Inside, the undercover agent noted, was a mattress on the floor. The agent told Gerald he was married and wanted some no-strings-attached sex. Gerald reportedly told the officer she understood what he wanted. 

The undercover officer then asked Gerald’s rate for a half-hour with her. She reportedly said $120. He then asked how much for a full hour and she reportedly told him it was $300.

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At that point, the officer notified Gerald that he didn’t have cash and had to go to an ATM to get money out to pay her. Gerald reportedly said, “If you don’t have any cash, I can’t even touch you.”

As he was leaving to supposedly go to the ATM, Gerald reportedly told the agent, “Make sure you come back.”

Gerald was released on $5,000 unsecured bail on Friday.

Zandra Saunders, 42, Minersville

Zandra Saunders

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Attempt to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Attempt to commit delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • (Misdemeanor) Attempt to commit possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Attempt to commit possession of drug paraphernalia

It was learned on July 21 that Zandra Saunders “was able to get” heroin or fentanyl at the price of $60 per bundle, or the equivalent thereof. So, an undercover Minersville PD officer made arrangements to meet with Saunders in the area adjacent to the 400 block of Pine St.

At about 5:20 that afternoon, the undercover agent met with Saunders and handed her the $60. She reportedly told the officer she’d be back with the drugs. About an hour later, Saunders returned with the suspected heroin or fentanyl, at which time the agent asked if she had any more to sell. Saunders reportedly said she did.

On July 31, another arrangement was made for a buy from Saunders. This time, an undercover agent met with her in the Dollar General parking lot. The officer gave her the $60 like earlier that month and again, Saunders said she’d be back with the drugs.

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However, about an hour later, Saunders returned and reportedly told the undercover agent that there were too many police officers in Shenandoah, where she was supposed to get the drugs. She then returned the $60.

Saunders was sent to Schuylkill County Prison on $25,000 straight bail on each of the two cases against her.

Saunders was sent to Schuylkill County on $25,000 straight bail on each of the two cases against her.

Adrian Pitts, 40, Bethlehem

Adrian Pitts

Charges: 

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of drug paraphernalia

Diedre Scott, 34, Minersville

Deidre Scott

Charges:

  • (Felony) Delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit delivery of a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Felony) Conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of a controlled substance
  • (Misdemeanor) Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • (Misdemeanor) Conspiracy to commit possession of drug paraphernalia

According to Scott’s arrest papers, arrangements were made by an undercover Minersville police officer to meet Scott at her home at 300 Lewis St. on Sept. 9 of this year.

The goal of the meeting was for the undercover officer to purchase an eighth of marijuana for $40. The undercover officer arrived at 300 Lewis St. and was met in the lobby by Scott, who took the officer to her apartment at unit #503.

Inside the apartment, Scott and the undercover officer were met by someone going by the name of Adrian “Nyce” Pitts. At a little after 8 p.m., the officer gave Pitts the $40 and was able to get a baggie filled with presumed weed. 

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Pitts allegedly told the officer that the amount of weed given to them was “a little over an eighth.”

Later that same night, another controlled buy was made at Scott’s apartment by an undercover officer from Minersville PD. 

During this buy, the police were looking to buy a half-ounce of weed for $120.

At about 9:15 that night, the undercover officer again met Scott in the lobby of 300 Lewis St., who then went to her apartment. Inside, again, the two were met by Pitts. Pitts allegedly handed the undercover officer a baggie filled with suspected weed. 

The baggie during this buy was marked “Strawberry Sherbert” on the front, police say. A sticker on the back of the bag reportedly read “Medical Marijuana Fruit Loop Runtz”.

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Pitts and Scott both remain wanted by police.

(NOTE: Totals of the amount of people taken into custody and those still wanted by police have been updated after new information was released on Friday.)

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Val

    September 26, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    WOW! What a story!! Hollywood is jealously smoking aside..
    It has everything: health workers selling meth to a “wheelchair- bound patient”; Momma D; a secret meeting at local cemetery; homeless drug dealers and other individuals who are still “wanted by police”; some not-so-young characters who are selling “Suboxone films” (who knows what it means, please raise your hand.. definitely a touch of mystery); an undercover police officer who hire a prostitute, but don’t have cash, etc.
    IMHO, 5 stars article! Looking forward for more development of the story.

  2. Carol

    September 28, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    Did they get any of the ones that got away yet? No updates that I saw. I think we would all like to know . Do we need to keep looking for them? Updates please.

    • Canary Commenter

      September 29, 2023 at 10:53 am

      We’ll check on that.

    • Evitts

      December 17, 2023 at 10:09 am

      Carol your a junkie yourself n sell madd
      blow

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