PUNXSUTAWNEY — A two-year investigation has yielded the arrest of eight individuals who, police say, are accused of distributing a controlled substance — mainly marijuana.
During a press conference Wednesday, officials from the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop C, Punxsutawney, described a drug sweep that began around 7 a.m. that morning, and concluded without incident around 9 a.m., according to Lt. Bernard Petrovsky.
Trooper Jamie LeVier, public information officer for Troop C, said the two-year investigation focused on the sale and distribution of marijuana and prescription drugs.
Eight of nine suspects — all from around the Punxsutawney area — were arrested Wednesday, LeVier said. One suspect who was not arrested, Vincent B. Myrick, left the area within the last two weeks, he said.
Those taken into custody were:
• Brianna C. Cogley, 21, Brookville, housed in the Jefferson County jail on $75,000 bail.
• Elaine C. Greene, 48, Punxsy, housed in the Jefferson County jail on $125,000 bail.
• Justin R. Jerrell, 22, Reynoldsville, housed in the Jefferson County jail on $40,000 bail.
• Brian K. Kirbaugh, 22, Rossiter, housed in the Jefferson County jail on $80,000. His photo was unavailable.
• Myrick, 39, formerly of Punxsy, not yet apprehended.
• April B. Peace, 35, Houtzdale, formerly of Punxsy. At the time of the press conference, she had not yet been taken into custody, but District Judge Douglas Chambers said she was arrested Wednesday afternoon.
She was committed to the Jefferson County jail on $80,000 bail.
• Cayla M. Shank, 19, Punxsy, housed in the Jefferson County jail on $40,000 bail.
• Christopher R. Storms, 28, Rossiter, housed in the Jefferson County jail on $80,000 bail.
• Patrick S. Doksa, no age given, Falls Creek, housed in the Jefferson County jail on $40,000 bail.
Chambers arraigned all the defendants — except Cogley and Doksa — Wednesday.
Captain Scott Neal, commanding officer of Troop C, said troopers and undercover officers involved in the investigation did not specifically target marijuana trafficking, but acted upon the information they had. In this case, it happened to deal with marijuana and prescription drugs.
“It all starts somewhere,” LeVier said. “It was a two-year investigation and it was time to bring it to a close.”
While marijuana is “always a problem,” Petrovsky said, the abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs has been on a steady rise in the last few years, said District Attorney Jeff Burkett, who added that early in his career as D.A., he rarely saw these kinds of cases.
That has changed, as these days, users will doctor their own prescriptions and steal other people’s prescriptions — “any way that they can obtain them.”
Neal said over the last few years, troopers have received training in drug recognition that enables them to learn is a person is impaired on drugs — not just alcohol — during traffic stops.
Thus, Burkett said troopers and his office have seen an increase in the number of “drug DUI” cases.
“We then base our decisions on the blood samples,” he said. “It has really helped our drug DUI prosecution in the county.”