Philly pair nabbed in Strong heroin bust
MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP - A Philadelphia couple who authorities suspect have been delivering heroin in the area for several months were taken into custody Tuesday following a drug transaction involving an undercover officer at Routes 54 and 61 in Strong.
Wheeler D. Collins, 47, and his girlfriend, Vilma Irizarry-Roque, of 4274 Torresdale Ave., were apprehended during a traffic stop shortly before 4:30 p.m. at Routes 901 and 54 near the former Boylan's Garage after Wheeler allegedly delivered 20 bags of heroin to the undercover policeman for $200 approximately 10 minutes earlier in the parking lot at Turkey Hill Minit Market.
The couple did not resist, police said.
Mount Carmel Chief of Police Todd Owens said police recovered eight bags of heroin with two different stamps from Collins' pocket. They also found the $200 in drug buy money and several hundred dollars in cash in Irizarry-Roque's purse, which also contained pharmaceutical drugs for which she had prescriptions. Drug paraphernalia including straws also were confiscated.
"It was a good bust," Owens said. "We were able to cut the head off the snake by nabbing these two individuals whom sources have informed us were delivering heroin in our area on their way to or from Williamsport, where there reportedly is a drug pipeline to Philadelphia. Hopefully, this arrest will deter people from the bigger cities from delivering drugs to our community."
Collins is charged with felonies of criminal conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver heroin, criminal use of a communication facility and three counts of possession with intent to deliver heroin, and misdemeanors of possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.
His girlfriend is charged with two counts of possession with intent to deliver heroin and one count each of criminal conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver heroin, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.
All the charges were filed by Owens and Mount Carmel Township Patrolman David Stamets Jr., both members of the Northumberland-Montour County Drug Task Force. Other drug task force officers from Mount Carmel, Mount Carmel Township and Kulpmont assisted in the investigation.
Both defendants were detained in a holding cell at Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury before being video arraigned on the charges by Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones on Wednesday and committed to prison in lieu of $75,000 cash bail apiece.
They are scheduled to face a preliminary hearing Sept. 10 before Jones.