A major state police undercover drug investigation that began in the summer of 2011 has resulted in arrest warrants being filed for more than a dozen people, according to court records made public late Tuesday afternoon.
Seven of those who either allegedly sold or purchased the drugs were behind bars on various felony and misdemeanor offenses.
The investigation involved about 30 "controlled buys" of cocaine or crack cocaine to confidential informants, police said.
One of those arrested, Eric Anthony Coates, 48, of 1309 Almond St., was taken into custody at his place of employment in Williamsport and faces 58 charges, including multiple counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of cocaine and illegal use of a cellphone.
"Drug dealer, I'm not. I work every day," Coates told District Judge Allen P. Page III.
"This is not the day of trial," the judge said, cutting Coates off in mid-sentence.
"These are serious charges that could put you in state prison for 50 years," Page told Coates, who is accused of being involved in more than a dozen drug sales between July 23 and early last month.
Coates, a barber, was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $225,000 bail.
In a 186-page affidavit, state police detail an investigation during which more than 700 grams of cocaine or crack cocaine were sold to informants.
The average individual amount in a transaction was about 27 grams and sold for $1,350, police said.
The investigation traces "controlled buys" as well as other alleged drug sales that occurred between late July 2011 and early last month.
During the investigation, police obtained from a State Superior Court judge approval to wiretap a telephone so that investigators could listen to the planning of alleged drug sales.
There were a few incidents of drug dealers selling stolen handguns to informants, police said.
There also were reports of "bricks of heroin" being sold on city streets and sales of heroin by "the bundle."
Police tracked one drug dealer to Philadelphia, where it is believed he purchased three ounces of cocaine and then returned to Williamsport to sell the drugs.
In late July, investigators received information that some of the dealers and sellers were texting messages back and fourth, complaining about the quality of the cocaine they were selling.
People were complaining that some of the cocaine "tasted like candle wax," and the dealer promised to "recook" what he had not yet sold, according to police.
One of the persons who sold cocaine for a dealer reportedly said, "You can tell there is a problem (with the quality) when the people stop calling, and you have to call them to sell the crack," an investigator wrote in the affidavit.
Another person allegedly involved in the drug sales is heard saying that as "soon as he gets into town, he wants to get this done so that he can go home and get some sleep."
Besides Coates, Page arraigned the following on various drug offenses - Damon Teron Jackson, 39, of 419 Locust St., jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail; Jayson R. Johnson, 24, of 829 Louisa St, jailed in lieu of $200,000 bail; Brucilla Fatimah Lowe, 31, of 733 Campbell St., jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail; and Ryan Thomas Cohick, 26, formerly 1600 block of Taylor Place now living at 2223 W. Mountain Ave., South Williamsport, jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail.
Late Tuesday night, District Judge James H. Sortman arraigned Christopher M. Williams, 39, of 809 Sheridan St., total of 74 counts, jailed in lieu of $350,000 bail; and Danielle C. Cohick, 24, of 1637 Taylor Place, total of 11 counts, jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.
The investigation was ongoing, and police continued to search for other fugitives.