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Joint Investigation Leads To Major Drug Bust In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A joint investigation led to a major drug bust in Philadelphia.

District Attorney Seth Williams says three drug dealers were arrested and $3.3 million in heroin was confiscated.

The DA says Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes, Zamary L. Roldan and Johel Pascal-Mateo have all been arrested and charged with possession with the intent to deliver and conspiracy.

If found guilty, authorities say each could face approximately 60 years in prison.

"I would like to thank the men and women of the Philadelphia Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration for their partnership and the hard work of my office's Dangerous Drug Offender Unit. Recently our city learned about the deaths of several individuals from 'bad' heroin, and even though we don't yet know if the heroin that came from this bust was or was not laced with deadly chemicals, it still sends a clear message that Philadelphia's law enforcement community is going to keep doing all it can to make our streets as safe as they can be," said District Attorney Seth Williams.

"Philadelphia County, as well as the Commonwealth at large, has experienced the loss of thousands of lives over the past few years due to fatal drug overdoses – the majority of which are the result of heroin. The seizure of this heroin, which was the result of the DEA's partnership with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, will undoubtedly save lives across our region," said Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Philadelphia Division.

Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes, Zamary Roldan, Johel Pascal-Mateo. (credit: Phila. DA)

Authorities say on Jan. 24, officers, acting on information gathered from ongoing surveillance in the area of 7100 Bingham Street, observed Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes enter and exit the property.

Surveillance officers followed him to the area of Algon Avenue and Magee Street where he met with an unknown male. Authorities say they saw Alavarez-Mercedes then place a small white box in his car.

After driving for a short time, authorities say they stopped Alavarez-Mercedes and found approximately three kilograms of heroin in the white box. Alavarez-Mercedes was taken into custody.

Officials say as Alavarez-Mercedes was being stopped, investigators at the property observed a female, later identified as Zamary L. Roldan, exiting the property with a diaper bag, hand bag, infant and a container. Roldan was stopped and consented to having her car searched, authorities say.

Officers say they recovered four racks of glassine packets containing heroin, $5,000 and the container contained 18.4 pounds of heroin.

"That means you're getting over 429,000 packets of heroin taken off the street," said Melissa Francis, who leads the District Attorney's Drug Unit, told KYW Newsradio, "that's 429,000 less times that someone is going to ingest, by whatever method, this deadly drug."

Roldan was taken into custody and family members are now taking care of the infant.

Officers searched Alavarez-Mercedes' residence on Bingham Street. There they say they recovered .5 kilograms of heroin, packaging materials and scales. They also found in an upstairs bedroom ledger books, passports for Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes and Zamary L. Roldan, and 13 counterfeit $100 bills.

Investigators learned that Gheral Alavarez-Mercedes had made arrangements to meet with Johel Pascal-Mateo to distribute the three kilograms of heroin to Pascal-Mateo for transportation to New York City via the Geraldo Transport Service.

Authorities say officers stopped Pascal-Mateo near the Geraldo Transport Service, arrested him and seized $485.

KYW's Kristen Johanson contributed to this story.

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