12 arrested in Topton area on drug charges; Schwank: ‘We must do more to re-wage war on drugs'

Submitted by Berks DA Suspects arrested on drug charges May 5.

A Drug Round-up in the Topton area led to the arrest of 12 suspects ranging in age from 17 to 26 and two ages 45 and 47.

“I am grateful for the excellent investigative work of the Berks County District Attorney’s office and state police, but the arrest today of more than a dozen of our children underscores an already underscored problem,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank in a statement,

“Ten of the people charged in this latest drug raid were younger than 21. If the charges are upheld, that will mean these students are taking drugs into our schools or they are buying them there. This has always been a problem but the growing presence of heroin as a drug of choice means we must do more to re-wage our war on drugs.”

On May 5, detectives from the Berks County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force and State Police arrested 12 total suspects on drug charges, including seven drug dealers for numerous violations of the PA Drug Device and Cosmetic Act. Charges included Possession, Possession With the Intent to Deliver and Delivery of Heroin, Cocaine and Marijuana, according to a release from the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.

“This joint investigation was the result of numerous complaints from concerned citizens regarding recent overdose deaths from heroin and information obtained from confidential sources,” according to the release. “Today’s operation was the culmination of a four-month long joint investigation, where undercover detectives and confidential sources purchased small amounts of heroin, cocaine and marijuana from drug dealers in Northeast Berks County.”

Undercover purchases ranged from $30 to $170 worth of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, according to the DA’s Office.

Arrest warrants were obtained from Magisterial District Judge Victor Frederick for the following:

Michael Moll, 26, Mertztown

Ashley Hettrick, 19, Mertztown

Logan Fenstermacher, 20, Topton

Dylan Lesher, 21, Mertztown

Ross Brugger, 20, Topton

Brett Brugger, 19, Topton

Carl Ritzman, 45, Temple

Jesse Strain, 47, Topton

Heather Gulick, 21, Kutztown

Alexis Miller, 19, Kempton

Cameron Grace, 18, Topton

Brandywine student, 17 (name not released)

“Our children, people like the ones who have been charged today with possession of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, are dying in alarming numbers. This cannot happen,” said Schwank in her statement.

Schwank emphasized the need to do “much more to make sure families are more aware of the danger signs of drug abuse, especially heroin, and they must know that police officers are searching longer and harder to stop this growing – but preventable – problem.”

She wants to see action in the General Assembly.

“There are legislative options before us to consider. If they need to be improved or changed, we should do that. Our silence is complicity. We must not be complicit as our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews succumb to heroin’s deadly grip,” writes Schwank in her statement.

“The arrests this morning are important but the continued vigilance of the entire community is needed to stem the tide on prescription drug/heroin abuse. We can’t let our guard down.”

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.