47 arrested in multi-state drug pipeline, Central Pa. to Cali

Local News

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Forty-seven people have been charged in relation to drug trafficking and money laundering throughout Western and Central Pennsylvania, according to the United States Department of Justice.

The 47 people were charged in six separate, but related crimes following a nine-month investigation of a drug pipeline from California to Pennsylvania, spanning across Jefferson, Clearfield, Cambria, Elk and Allegheny Counties. This investigation was conducted by multiple federal, state and local agencies under “Operation Return to Sender.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kauffman said methamphetamine distribution has been on the rise in Pennsylvania in the last two years.

Multiple Pennsylvania residents and people from the west coast were arrested in relation to distributing multiple substances including methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana from 2020 through August 2021. The Department of Justice also said several members conspired to launder the money from the illegal drug trafficking.

“Organizing and executing an operation of this magnitude across multiple states and jurisdiction is no simple task, but it is worth it to protect our friends and neighbors from these drugs that plague our communities,” Clearfield County District Attorney Ryan Sayers said. “Operations like this one and Crystal Highway, which occurred last year, send a clear message to drug traffickers—that Clearfield County is closed for their business.”

The list of the 47 people arrested in the six separate indictments is below:

Amy Bortot, 51, of Clearfield, Pennsylvania
Brandon Coder, 32, of Dubois, Pennsylvania
• Darren Douglas, 36, of Big Run, Pennsylvania
• Morgan Gregory, 32, of Dubois, Pennsylvania
• Darryl Isaacs, 56, of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
• Kristy Lepionka, 38, of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania
• Chad Gasbarre, 35, of Brockway, Pennsylvania
• Derek Hillebrand, 25, of Troutville, Pennsylvania

• Danielle Gillam, 42, of Blandburg, Pennsylvania
• Kenneth Gillam, 51, of Blandburg, Pennsylvania

• Jeffrey Peters, 65, of Hyde, Pennsylvania
• Megan Pyne, 27, of Dubois, Pennsylvania

• Brenton Ryans, 33, of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania
• Ryan Schoening, 31, of Rockton, Pennsylvania

• Brent Shaffer, 37, of Olanta, Pennsylvania
• Melvin Shelander, 30, of Kersey, Pennsylvania
• James Williams Jr., 56, of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania
• Travis Williams, 29, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania

• Taylor Thomas, 27, of Dubois, Pennsylvania
• Justin Zeruth, 34, of Woodland, Pennsylvania
• Christina Shaffer, 53, of Falls Creek, Pennsylvania
• Brent Coder, 54, of DuBois, Pennsylvania
• Jason Whitaker, 48, of DuBois, Pennsylvania
Ryan Schoening, 31, of Rockton, Pennsylvania
Diego Zamudio, 23, of Pasadena, Texas
Kimari Jackson, 25, of Richmond Heights, Ohio
Kareem Rock, 27, of Richmond Heights, Ohio
• Doug Austen, 40, of Pittsburgh
• John Vos, 44 (address unknown)
Yusuf Adekunle, 26, of Philadelphia
Adrian Alvarez, 27 (address unknown)
Jesus Gonzalez, 35, of Houston, Texas
• George Charlan, 33, of Grants Pass, Oregon
• Yusuf Adekunle, 26, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• Marco Armenta, 36, of Stockton, California
• Silvia Ayala, 30, of Stockton, California
• Francisco Barba, 32, of Stockton, California
• Terrence Dougherty, 28, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
• Marco Galvez, of Patterson, California
• Christian Maldonado, 33, of Stockton, California
• Lisandra Maldonado, 31, of Stockton, California
• Abel Perez, 34, of Stockton, California
• Armando Razo Jr., 31, of Stockton, California
• Christopher Robertson, 60, of Sparks, Nevada
• Darnell Smith, 38, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
• Juan Villagran, 23, of Stockton, California
• Jose Villalobos, 40, of Stockton, California
• James White, 38, of Seiad Valley, California

“Today is the culmination of a major drug investigation that involved many state and federal agencies working hand-in-hand to protect the citizens of Jefferson County,” Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett said. “I commend, applaud and thank the DEA, the Pennsylvania State Police, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Kaufman and his office and the many other law enforcement agencies that spearheaded this important effort. It is very gratifying to see so many agencies working so hard together for such a great cause.”

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