A multi-year operation has led to the arrests of 49 people associated with an alleged drug trafficking organization (DTO) operating out of southern Chester County.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the charges Tuesday as the result of “Operation Crushed Ice” a joint law enforcement operation intended to investigate drug operations — particularly those involving methamphetamine, which goes by the street name “ice” — in the county, through the southeast region of the state and in multiple other states.
“Protecting Chester County from drug dealers requires constant vigilance,” Hogan said in a statement. “Operation Crushed Ice has destroyed a significant drug trafficking organization that was operating in our back yard. This is a battle that law enforcement fights every day to protect our children, our businesses, and our homes.”
Those charged allegedly trafficked methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs. Operation Crushed Ice was led by the Chester County Detectives and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Authorities said that the ringleader of the operation was Richard Maitre, 27, based in Oxford. The so-called Maitre DTO allegedly trafficked large-scale quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and prescription pills. Police said that the Maitre DTO also had connections to Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania; the states of Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, and Arizona; and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
“The Pennsylvania State Police remains committed to utilizing the full extent of the existing laws to rid persons from our communities who continue to participate in the underground illicit drug trade,” Capt. Maurice Tomlinson, Commander of the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop J, said. “The activities of this DTO had a far-reaching impact on many lives, young and old. Law enforcement cooperation was an integral factor in this investigation being successful. Agencies from around the country, county, and state worked cooperatively to bring Maitre’s reign in Chester County to an end.”
The other members of the Maitre DTO who have been charged are:
Brian Amoriello, 40; Alberto Andrews, 37; Jose Beltran-Mercado, 33; Michael Brackin, 25; Kiere Brown, 25; Christopher Bryant, 29; Nicole Bui, 29; Samuel Carr, 29; Charles Chambers, 55; Julio Colon, 28; Harry Dillow, 55; Dean Fenner, 47; Christopher Forrester, 38; Gilberto Hernandez, 24; Jeremy Horne, 26; Eboni Jackson, 41; Jermaine Jackson, 45; Scott Johnson, 29; William Jones, 30; Ryan Kelly, 36; Maria Lemos, 41; Carrie Lewis, 33; Debra Lewis, 46; Brittaney Mantz, 24; Marc Massey, 36; Herbert McClain, Jr., 30; Jenna McGoldrick, 26; Steven Miller, 29; Michael Oxford, 38; David Price, 34; Joseph Racca, 28; Moiscell Robinson, 28; Robbie Robinson, 40; Austin Rodriguez, 29; Deanie Seymour, 29; Victor Smith, 37; Theodore Spencer, 56; Tonya Stewart, 39; Andrea Sydenstricker, 27; Barry Sydenstricker, 60; Jonathan Taylor, 27; Darrell Thomas, 33; Timothy Turner, 27; Louie Velez, 37; Michael Walsh, Jr., 20; Michael Walsh, Sr., 38; Stephen Westmoreland, 33; and Michael Zelek, 30.
Operation Crushed Ice began in 2015 when investigators reportedly learned Maitre was running drug operations in southern Chester County. Maitre actually was in Chester County Prison at the time. He was allegedly using his co-conspirators to deliver drugs outside the prison, collect money, and stay in touch with other drug dealers.
When Maitre was released from Chester County Prison in 2016, he immediately began to run the DTO again, engaging in full-scale drug trafficking, authorities said. Maitre had a wide web of sub-distributors and customers. However, Maitre also was sophisticated, consistently switching or “dropping” cell phones and keeping his sources of drugs a secret.
Using cooperators, the police were able to make purchases of drugs directly from Maitre and his co-conspirators. The police also discovered that Maitre allegedly used violence to run his operation. When one dealer was late to pay Maitre, Maitre reportedly arranged for that dealer to be beaten by other conspirators. Using all of this information, law enforcement then engaged in a wire-tap of Maitre’s cell phone.
The wire-tap operation revealed the full scope of Maitre’s organization, police said. According to authorities, Maitre was consistently dealing drugs throughout the region, and his drug contacts stretched across the United States. Maitre brought drugs in via air travel and via cars. Maitre reportedly had a large number of sub-dealers working for him.
Operation Crushed Ice brought down the Maitre DTO on January 12, 2017. Co-defendant Alberto Andrews was allegedly driving Maitre’s BMW to and from Ohio to deliver seven pounds of methamphetamine to Maitre at 416 Chesterville Road, Landenberg. Shortly after Andrews arrived, law enforcement executed simultaneous search warrants at 416 Chesterville Road and 17 other locations in the region used by the Maitre DTO.
During the raids, police reportedly seized methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and prescription drugs. The police said they found over 40 firearms, both hand guns and long guns. Law enforcement also seized cash, more than 20 vehicles, and paraphernalia associated with drug trafficking, such as scales and packaging materials. Maitre briefly escaped, but eventually was captured on January 25, 2017.
The defendants have been charged with felony drug trafficking, conspiracy, firearms violations, and related charges. Maitre’s bail was set at $2,000,000 and he was remanded to Chester County Prison. All of the defendants were indicted by a Chester County Grand Jury.
Operation Crushed Ice was led by the Chester County Detectives and the Pennsylvania State Police. The operation was assisted by the regional High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, the Chester County Municipal Drug Task Force, the Chester County SWAT teams, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The cases will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Drug Unit.
Anybody with information should contact the Chester County Detectives at (610) 344-6866 or the Pennsylvania State Police at (610) 268-2022.