POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Five people are now behind bars after a drug bust in Schuylkill County. Pennsylvania Attorney Generals Josh Shapiro announced the arrests Tuesday.

Shapiro held a press conference in Pottsville announcing the arrests of five people accused of distributing and trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine.

According to Shapiro, the investigation identified five individuals who operated this drug trafficking ring over the past year.

The individuals accused in the investigation include Said Rivera, Christopher Hall, Amanda Tice, Donalea Turolis, and Joseph Weikel.

Investigators say that these individuals orchestrated the sale and distribution of more than 1,000 fentanyl pills and one pound of methamphetamine per week in the region during a one-year period.

“We know that Schuylkill County has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. And I want you to know that each of these law enforcement leaders who were here Tuesday has made a major difference in trying to save lives,” stated Shapiro.

Officials state search warrants were executed at various locations associated with the defendants in Schuylkill County. This resulted in the seizure of approximately 368 doses of methamphetamine, 2,300 doses of fentanyl, two bags of fentanyl pills (approx. 55 grams), and 746 individually packaged bags each containing fentanyl confiscated.

“There’s no doubt it’s a war. The drug dealers out there they think they are smarter than us, they think they can get away with more than they can get away with, but we’re on top of that every single day,” explained Michael O’Pake, Schuylkill County District Attorney.

Investigators also say they seized four rifles, one pistol, $8,052 in cash, several digital scales, packaging materials, and additional fentanyl, paraphernalia, and ammunition.

The five suspects have been charged with corrupt organizations, possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and fentanyl, criminal conspiracy to commit these offenses, possession of controlled substances, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

“Increasingly, we’re seeing fentanyl replace heroin as the dominant opioid here in Pennsylvania, because of its low cost – as little as 79 cents a dose. We are also seeing fentanyl contaminating other drugs, sometimes at lethal doses. We will not sit idly by when dealers traffic poison across Pennsylvania and try to profit from devastating our communities.” 

Attorney General Shapiro

Law enforcement says due to its low cost and high potency, fentanyl has increasingly replaced heroin as the dominant opioid in Pennsylvania.

This investigation was the result of the partnership with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, with Pottsville Bureau of Police, Port Carbon Police Department, and other local law enforcement.