Major drug pipeline from California to our area shutdown

In the early morning hours of August 31, federal, state, and local police agents, supported by a helicopter, could be seen conducting a raid on Horseshoe Road near Reynoldsville, forcing the lock down of Jeff Tech as a precaution. Other raids around the borough were also observed throughout the morning. In a press conference at the Punxsutawney barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police later in the day, the reason for the raids was revealed.

Paris Pratt (center) and Stephen Kaufman

Acting United States Attorney Stephen Kaufman of the Western Pennsylvania District out of Pittsburgh chaired the conference attended by representatives from federal, state , and local departments, including the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett, Clearfield County District Attorney Ryan Sayers, and representatives from state and local police departments.

In the last two years, the agencies worked together through Operation Return to Sender to shutdown a major methamphetamine distribution ring that operated from California to western Pennsylvania.

“This drug trafficking organization was responsible for the distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine, marijuana, as well as cocaine, primarily to Clearfield, Jefferson, and Allegheny counties,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman told the members of the press who had gathered at the Punxsy barracks. “It was a multi-agency investigation lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration, but it really required the important assistance and really hard work of all of the law enforcement agencies you see represented here today.”

Paris Pratt, DEA Special Agent in Charge of western PA, commented, “Great cases take great partnership and that’s exactly what we have here.” He added he was proud of what was accomplished by working together.

Jeff Burkett

In his comments, Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett said, “Drug addiction ruins lives, it ruins families, it ruins everything around it. It has a terrible human cost. That’s why it’s incredibly heartening to see major traffickers of this terrible poison be brought down.”

A total of 47 people from six states were named in the investigation which involved six indictments, including a number from this area including:

Kristy Lepionka, 38, of Reynoldsville.

Brenton Ryans, 33, of Reynoldsville

James Williams Jr., 56, of Reynoldsville

Darren Douglas, 36, of Big Run

Darryl Isaacs, 56, of Punxsutawney

Christina Shaffer, 53, of Falls Creek

Brandon Coder, 32, of DuBois

Morgan Gregory, 32, of DuBois

Megan Pyne, 27, of DuBois

Taylor Thomas, 27, of DuBois

Jason Whitaker, 48, of DuBois

Terry Kelly, 60, of Penfield

Chad Gasbarre, 35, of Brockway

Derek Hillebrand, 25, of Troutville

Ryan Schoening, 31, of Rockton

The press release states that all the law provides for a minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment up to life and a fine of not more than $10-million, or both.

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