Drug suspects rounded up in early-morning raid in Reading

Drug suspects rounded up in...

READING, Pa. - Authorities were up before the sun for a major drug sweep in Reading. They call the mission "Operation Gateway." 69 News went with Berks County detectives and Reading police.

"This is about saving people's lives," said Lt. Nelson Ortiz, a detective with the Berks County district attorney's office.

According to officials, Berks County saw 58 heroin overdose deaths in 2016. In the early-morning hours, authorities hit the streets of Reading to nab 24 suspected dealers.

"We have a pretty good team of people that goes looking for them. We have three teams," said Ortiz.

One by one, unsuspecting people opened their doors and were taken off in handcuffs. The suspects are accused of selling K-2, soboxone, cocaine, and heroin.

"We are in the midst of a heroin epidemic," said District Attorney John Adams.

The raid comes after five months of undercover work. It aims to clean the gateway to Reading's downtown.

Police said 14 of the 24 individuals sold drugs along Penn Street. Most of the transactions happened in the 400 block of Penn Street.

"It's a priority for our city to have economic development in the Penn Street corridor," said Adams. "We're going to continue to push forward to clean up and get this area to remain drug free."

Adams called the mission a success, but admitted it's not over yet. He's calling on downtown businesses to report suspicious activity to curb future drug sales.

"It a very dangerous drug and we need to get the people that are selling it off the street," said Ortiz. "Our neighbors, friends, and family members are dying as a result of this dangerous drug,". 

So far, authorities have 21 suspects in custody.

  • Neftali Gonzalez-Reyes
  • Edwin Vargas-Ruiz
  • Antonio Colon-Maisonet
  • Gerardo Rosado-Santos
  • Gary McNeal
  • Christopher Oliver
  • Candice Agudio
  • Jennifer Almonte
  • Wellington Mayo Jr.
  • Landrum Thompson
  • Luis R. Torres-Aguila
  • Jesus Daniel Perez Jr.
  • Emiliano Alvarez-Roman
  • Luis A. Ruiz-Gonzalez
  • Jose Luis Etanislao-German
  • Juan Junior Berganzo
  • Hector Manuel Rivera
  • Edvin Villegas
  • Jose A. Vargas
  • Jeffrey Rivera-Feliciano
  • Jose R. Bastell-Benitez

Authorities are asking the public for information on the three men still at large.

  • Raul Ortiz-Figueroa
  • Angel Manuel Torres-Andradez
  • Melix Rodriguez

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of the suspects who remain at large can contact Crime Alert Berks County via anonymous text to 847411, starting the message with keyword alertberks, or by calling 877-373-9913.

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