3 Birdsboro residents arrested in drug ring investigation

Popal Suliman, from left, Chelsea Bell and Keith Becker, all of Birdsboro, were arrested for allegedly dealing drugs as part of Operation Tourniquet. (Photos courtesy the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office)
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HARRISBURG — A joint investigation between state and local officials uncovered a large-scale drug ring that spanned three counties.

The results of the year-long “Operation Tourniquet” lead to the arrests of “48 mid- and street-level drug dealers,” a press release from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said.

The dealers, the release said, “were part of two organizations, who were loosely tied and responsible for distributing drugs throughout at least three counties including Berks, Lancaster, and Schuylkill.”

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Three Birdsboro residents where among the alleged “street-level” dealers who were arrested.

Chelsea Bell, 22; Keith Becker, 53; and Suliman Popal, 28, each face multiple counts of possession of a controlled substance and the criminal use of a communications facility.

The investigation “focused on the distribution of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription medications,” the release said.

During the raid on Monday, 17 search warrants were executed and officers seized 10 firearms including shotguns, assault rifles and handguns.

Along with the weapons, officers also seized nine cars, a dune buggy and approximately $40,000 in cash, the release said.

Popal was arraigned by District Judge Stuart D. Kennedy and issued $25,000 bail. In lieu of bail, he was confined to the Berks County Prison.

Becker was also arraigned by Kennedy but faces more charges than Popal, according to court documents. He was issued $100,000 bail and confined to the county prison.

Both men are expected in court again on July 11 at 8:30 a.m.

An arraignment date for Bell has not yet been set.

The Attorney General’s Office was assisted by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Berks County Drug Task Force, the Reading Police Department and the Berks County Sheriff’s Department.