Altoona man charged with selling heroin from wanted suspect

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — An Altoona man is facing a slew of charges Friday after police say he was involved in three drug-related incidents that began earlier this year.

John Eckard Sr., 61, was arraigned after police conducted a sting operation on Oct. 12. Officers arrested Eckard after he reportedly returned to his residence along 3rd Ave in a red minivan.

Eckard reportedly admitted he had just returned from Philadelphia where he had gotten heroin and cocaine. A search of the van found approximately 95 packets of heroin weighing 19 grams, along with 34 vials of crack cocaine.

John Eckard Sr., 61 of Altoona, PA.

Authorities were first made aware of Eckard on April 17 after a driver was pulled over by police for an arrest warrant. The arrestee later informed officers that Eckard possessed a large amount of heroin that he stored in a safe at his apartment along 12th Street. The arrestee also shared text messages with officers that discussed getting the drugs from Eckard.

A search warrant was later executed on Eckard’s residence where police located the safe under a couch. 3,724 wax packets of heroin and $8,729 cash were found inside the safe according to police. Ziplock bags containing methamphetamine and marijuana were also seized from the home.

Eckard reportedly told officers the drugs he got came from Pittsburgh through someone he referred to as “Guy.” The two arranged to bring more into Altoona within the next two days.

Rasul Aquil, 21 of Pittsburgh, PA.

Altoona police later arrested two Pittsburgh-area men Raemon Prunty, 20, and Sirjihad Valcin, 18, on April 19 after 100 bricks of heroin were found in the trunk of their vehicle. Prunty reportedly told police that he was the “middle person” for money exchanges between a police informant and Rasul Aquil, 21 of Pittsburgh, the individual identified by Eckard as “Guy.”

At the time, Aquil was wanted on felony and misdemeanor drug charges. He has since been placed in the Allegheny County Jail on other charges and is pending arraignment on his charges in Blair County.

Eckard’s charges also stem from an Oct. 5 interaction with a police informant where he allegedly sold 20 packets of heroin to a police informant for $200.

Through all three incidents, Eckard was charged with felony dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, criminal use of a communication facility, possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, possession of a controlled substance and use/possession of drug paraphernalia.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 27.

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