Two alleged heroin dealers and a woman who allegedly was fleeing adult probation have been taken into custody following an investigation centered around the Kaba Resort and Night Club, formerly known as Days Inn, in South Williamsport.
According to Chief Robert Hetner, of South Williamsport police, the hotel has been an area of interest for authorities for some time. Multiple narcotics arrests have been made in or near the hotel in recent months.
Members of the South Williamsport, Williamsport, and state police, as well as members of the Lycoming County Drug Task Force, banded together in an intensive investigation, lasting more than two months, which included round-the-clock surveillance of the hotel.
Rasheen E. Davis, 32, of Philadelphia has been charged with felony counts of criminal conspiracy, delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute heroin and criminal use of a cellphone.
Kevin Manley 35, of 1321 Race St., Williamsport, faces felony charges of criminal conspiracy, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of possession with intent to deliver heroin and one count for criminal use of a cellphone.
Authorities used undercover individuals to set up three different controlled drug purchases on March 26, April 10 and April 11. During each purchase, an individual purchased 10 bags of heroin for $100. The transaction was made in the hallways of the inn. However, authorities arrested Davis and Manley inside room 307.
The undercover individual met with Davis, Manley and a third man. Authorities have asked the Sun-Gazette not to print this person's name, as more arrests are expected in connection with this investigation.
During the course of their surveillance efforts, authorities also arrested Eva Lattieri, of 1336 West Southern Ave., South Williamsport. According to Hetner, Lattieri had been residing in the hotel for several months.
Following a traffic stop, Lattieri was taken into custody on a warrant from the Lycoming County Adult Probation Office.
"We also discovered that her driving privileges had been suspended from a previous DUI charge," Hetner said. He added that she also would be facing charges in connection with the case.
Hetner stated that authorities recognize the breadth of the drug problem in Lycoming County.
Though it may seem to civilians that police haven't done enough to stop dealers and users, many of the most effective police investigation techniques are meant to remain below the radar of the general populace.
"Narcotics investigations are time-consuming, lengthy investigations. We know some times it seems to residents that everyone knows where the drug problems are and the authorities aren't making arrests. But what people don't see is all the man hours we are putting in, trying to make sure these people are arrested and stay behind bars," Hetner said. "We want people to know that we understand resident's frustrations when they're aware of the heroin and drug problems in the local area. We're working as hard as possible to get these people into custody."
It takes countless hours of manpower to collect the evidence that can put a suspected dealer or user behind bars. A weak case, built on flimsy evidence, may result in the charges being thrown out or beaten in court, which in turn wastes time and effort. Hetner stressed the importance of having a strong case against an individual prior to their arrest.
Another issue authorities face is the sheer number of cases they're dealing with on a daily basis.
"We're dealing with multiple heroin incidents throughout the county. This problem isn't contained to one area," Hetner said.
Drugs in larger cities demand a much lower price than they do in the local area. Dealers drive from places like Philadelphia and New York City because they can turn a higher profit for the same product, authorities say. The high profit margins and large user base have all helped to feed Lycoming County's drug problem.
"Part of our frustration is that there will always be dealers where there is a market. As long as people continue to purchase and use drugs in this area, we're gong to keep having a problem," Hetner said.
Authorities have asked for the continued support of their citizens. Hetner stressed the importance of vigilant locals.
"If you see something illegal, or know of illegal activity, share that information with your local police. Hopefully it will result in more arrests like we've had with this case," Hetner said.