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By DAVID WEISS dweiss@leader.net

Thursday, January 29, 2004     Page: 1A

PLAINS TWP. - State and local investigators on Wednesday said they finished their second phase of cracking a $2-million cocaine ring by arresting 21 additional drug dealers.
    And the vast investigation could lead to additional arrests, said the state attorney general.
    The arrests of the 21 mid-level drug dealer suspects on Wednesday stem from Operation Bone Crusher, a 19-month investigation by the state Office of Attorney General and the Luzerne County Drug Task Force. Another suspect, Daniel P. Swinesburg, remained at large.
    The investigation began last year and led to authorities charging eight individuals, including thoses suspected of being the ring's kingpins, in November during the first phase of the operation.
    The ring, which was based in West Hazleton and had connections to New York City and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, distributed more than 20 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $2 million over several months, officials said.
    Wednesday's arrests bring the total number of individuals charged in the operation to 30. And there could be more, said state Attorney General Jerry Pappert. ``This wraps up the second stage. We were able to come back in the second stage and take a closer look and take off the streets more mid-level and street-level dealers. The investigation remains ongoing.''
    Pappert, surrounded by Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas and a number of area police chiefs, announced the arrests at a press conference at the attorney general's local office on Baltimore Drive.
    Arrested Wednesday were:
    William Davis, 22, of Deer Run Road in West Hazleton; Jennifer P. Foster, 23, of Iron Street in Berwick; Gary A. Slusser, 31, of West Second Street in Berwick; Dolores ``Dee'' Traub, 39, of Harvey Street in Hazleton; Shawn Quinn, 31, of Deer Run Road in West Hazleton; Joann Merola, 37, of West First Street in Hazleton; Kathy ``Keppy'' Kepp, 30, of First Street in Drifton, Hazle Township; George Mumie Jr., 28, of McKinley Street in Hazleton; Richard Zakutney, 23, of Tamarack Street in West Hazleton; Jessie Steibler, 20, of Lattimer Road in Hazleton; John Fegley, 27, of North Locust Street in Hazleton; Barbara Moran, 42, of Harvey Street in West Hazleton; Timothy ``Hammer'' Morrison, 37, of West Broad Street in Hazleton; Brian Forte, 32, of West Spruce Street in Hazleton; Annette ``Netty'' Forte, 35, of West Spruce Street in Hazleton; Costanzo ``Gus'' Martino, 44, of New Jersey; Michael J. Bodner, 22, of Hazleton RD1; Anthony Quinn, 22, of Holly Lynn Circle in Hazleton; Gene Gauthier, 26, of Harrison Street in Hazleton; Jeff Mumie, 19, of East Broad Street in Beaver Meadows, Carbon County; and Adam Davidick, 24, of Winters Avenue in West Hazleton.
    The defendants were processed at the Butler Township Police Department and arraigned before District Justice Daniel O'Donnell of Sugarloaf Township.
    The 22nd suspect, Swinesburg, 49, of Hollers Hill in Hazleton, was not in custody. They are all charged with numerous drug-related offenses.
    The investigation began in April 2002 when a Crestwood High School student was caught with a small amount of marijuana. Investigators said they later started buying drugs from Stephen Koch, of White Haven, and then Shaun Fisher of Freeland.
    Investigators obtained enough information to convince a judge to authorize a wiretap, which led to additional suspects and cocaine sources.
    Those charged in November were: Fisher, Koch, Erica Lawson of Freeland, Anthony Vetter of West Hazleton, Nichole Reimold of Hazleton, Luis ``C-Dog'' Reyes of West Hazleton, Raymond Fils-Aime of West Hazleton and David ``Bones'' Allegreto of Hazleton.
    The arrests, Lupas and Pappert said, came from great cooperation between agents at the state and local level throughout the investigation. They promised that cooperation will continue.
    ``All of these agencies and all of these departments share a common goal,'' Lupas said. ``And that is to rid our community of drug dealers.''
    David Weiss, a Times Leader staff writer, can be reached at 831-7397.
    State Attorney General Jerry Pappert explains the operation of Operation Bone Crusher. Pappert's agents, along with Luzerne County drug agents, arrested 21 mid-level drug dealer suspects on Wednesday involved with the operation.
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