Synthetic drugs, money seized during search of bodega, attached residence in Reading

Suspect charged with felony drug counts; other arrests pending

Author: , Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published: Dec 24 2013 06:07:06 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 29 2013 07:50:29 AM EST
Ramon Gomez Jr.
READING, Pa. -

The raid of a bodega in Reading turned up thousands of dollars' worth of illegal drugs and cash, police said Thursday.

Nearly 1,000 bags of synthetic drugs, labels and $36,504 in cash were on the table this Thanksgiving inside the Reading police headquarters.

The spread was seized from the bodega store at North Front and Greenwich streets. The illegal drugs were stashed behind the counter and inside the attached residence, said police.

The store this came out of, they were obviously moving quite a bit, which can be a tremendous problem," said Sgt. Wayne Levey, Reading Police Dept.

Authorities detained several people during their search, however, only one has been arrested. Ramon Gomez Jr., 25, of the 500 block of North Front Street, was arraigned on felony drug charges.

Residents who live near the store told 69 News the drug problem has been going on for awhile, and when they started complaining police reacted right away.

"I'm glad because the school bus for the kindergarteners' stop is right here and you always had to worry about the kids getting off the bus and everything else," said Rose Strause.

Seized synthetic drugs, money

The 989 bags of K2 hold an estimated street value of more than $40,000. The drugs are laced with dangerous, powerful chemicals, and police said this was one of the largest drug busts from a single store.

"So what these people are actually putting into the body by smoking this stuff is unbelievable," said Levey.

Many residents were troubled the drugs were allegedly being sold across from the Hope Lutheran Church, which was featured in a national Christmas Eve special last year highlighting hope for the struggling city.

"It's not good for the neighborhood, that's for sure. I got kids that grow up here," said John Walsh.

"It's a shame this is going on. Thank God it's off the street," said Eddie Pagan.

The investigation has been ongoing for months, and more people will be charged, said police.    

A bill signed into law by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett in June 2011 prohibits the possession, sale and use of synthetic drugs.