Officials are calling it one of the largest heroin busts in Blair County.
After a nearly year and a half long investigation, more than a dozen suspects are now facing several drug related charges.
Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said this was an extremely large amount of heroin coming in at prices unprecedented in the county.
The investigation began in December 2014. King-pin Norman “P” Gomez was arrested in December 2015.
One person of note in the drug ring is one of the men who brought Gomez to Blair County. That man is Tex X. Ortiz, who was previously arrested and charged for kidnapping his own daughter, resulting in a standoff with police in Altoona in December 2014.
The heroin came from New York City and was distributed throughout Blair and Cambria counties. Gomez would pick up heroin from New York on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. The drug ring used an Altoona tattoo shop as the front for the operation.
There is no set number for how much money is involved in the operation. Multiple kilograms of heroin were brought to the area. A confidential informant made three controlled buys in one month; that alone totaled around $90,000. Investigators suspect the total profit, based on the marked up price of the heroin, could be upwards of $1 million.
Each ounce of raw heroin was sold for $3,500 and represented a street value of $15,000 to $18,000 before being cut. The cut heroin totaled up to $30,000 to $36,000.
“Until the people in this county stop having an appetite for this crap, it’s gonna keep coming in,” said DA Consiglio. “Nationwide would be the same way. The people in this country using this garbage is unbelievable. I don’t know what’s wrong with their brains.”
Consiglio said they may have taken these criminals off the streets, but it will only be a matter of time before someone else fills their shoes, especially because of the demand for the drug in our area.