Operation Knockout: 18 arrested, 11 sought in major drug trafficking bust in Berks County

Update: District Attorney reports progress in ‘Operation Knockout’ with 5 arrests, 2 still sought

Original post: Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams announced Friday that twenty-nine people were charged with operating a large-scale drug trafficking organization within the City of Reading and surrounding jurisdictions.

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In a press conference Friday, Adams said eighteen of the twenty-nine have individuals were arrested in early morning search warrants and a round-up conducted by members of the Berks County Drug Task Force, Reading Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Berks County Sheriff’s Office. Elven are still sought by police.

The defendants were charged with committing offenses involving violations of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code and the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance Act; Delivery and Possession with Intent to Deliver of Controlled Substances which include bulk amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and fake opioid Rx pills of suspected fentanyl, Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activity, Corrupt Organizations and Criminal Use of Communication Facility. The arrest warrants were issued by Magisterial District Judge Priscilla Campos.

In early 2023, detectives from the Berks County Drug Task Force, along with the Reading Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police, identified a drug operation in Reading, PA, who were distributing various controlled substances. Through investigative tools, it was determined that the individuals were part of an even larger organization. Throughout the course of the investigation, investigators were able to identify one of the operation’s source of supply, who had direct links to a Mexican cartel.

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Subsequently, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams made an application for electronic surveillance on subjects of this investigation. This application was authorized by a Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge on August 16, 2023. Through various techniques, law enforcement was able to identify and interpret these individuals’ mode of operation and patterns of distribution.

On Sunday September 3rd, 2023, with the assistance of electronic surveillance and PSP Shield Units, an interdiction stop was made on Interstate I-78 within Berks County. As a result of the stop and search that was conducted, officers seized nine kilograms of cocaine and a loaded firearm concealed within the vehicle.

On September 28, 2023, search warrants were obtained and served at thirteen houses, ten in the City of Reading, one in West Lawn, and one in Shillington.

As a result of the cumulative search warrants and undercover drug buys, the following is a summary of items of evidence that were recovered & seized: Nine kilograms of powder cocaine (smuggled from Mexico), approx. 4,885 fake opioid pills of suspected fentanyl, approx. 48 grams of fentanyl, approx. 180 grams of crack cocaine, approx. 1,515 grams of powder cocaine, approx. 1,358 grams of methamphetamine, approx. 1,360 grams of marijuana, approx. 20 pounds of synthetic marijuana (K2), $68,349.00 Cash, U.S. Currency, ten handguns and one rifle.

The approximate combined street value of the above-seized drugs was over 1.5 million dollars.

On October 12th, 2023, arrest warrants were obtained for twenty-nine suspects. At the time of this, eleven individuals are still at large.

The arrested individuals were transported to the Berks County Sheriff’s Central Processing Unit and are currently awaiting arraignment.

As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

If anyone has any information regarding the whereabouts of the wanted persons, please contact the Berks County Detectives at 610-478-7171. Anyone with information pertaining to this incident may submit an anonymous tip to Crime Alert Berks County by either calling (877) 373-9913, downloading the ALERTBERKS app on your mobile device, or via text message using your mobile phone and typing ALERTBERKS along with your tip to 847411.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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