Norristown Drug Trafficking Ring Busted
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, along with Norristown Police Chief Russell Bono, Plymouth Police Chief Joseph Lawrence, Warden Julio Algarin of the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, Upper Dublin Police Chief Terrence Thompson, Captain David Young of the Pennsylvania State Police and Chief Montgomery County Probation Officer Michael Gordon report the arrests of six (6) suspects for drug law and firearm violations.
In August 2009, detectives from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) and the Montgomery County Drug Task Force began receiving information about the drug trafficking activities of Plymouth residents Charles Barksdale a.k.a. Charles Powell and his brother Raymond Powell.
NET detectives shared this information with Plymouth Township police who also had information on these suspects. A joint investigation commenced which included a variety of investigative techniques. When detectives learned these individuals, along with others, were armed with an assault rifle and handguns, they made this case their highest priority due to public safety concerns.
In September 2009, detectives applied for six search warrants which included the locations of 44 Ross Street, Plymouth Township, and 807 Green Street, Norristown. In the afternoon hours of September 17, 2009, NET detectives and Drug Task Force Officers set up surveillance at those locations.
Upon execution of the search warrants, detectives seized a large amount of cocaine with a street value of $14,000; seven loaded handguns; an SKS 7.62 mm assault rifle with a fully loaded magazine; $1995.00 in cash; and drug paraphernalia used for the packaging and distribution of cocaine.
During the execution of the search warrant for 807 Green Street, detectives seized a covert video surveillance system designed to warn the drug dealers inside of the presence of police. This system was fully operational during the time of the search with an audio microphone which is a violation of Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act.
During the course of this investigation, it was also discovered that Charles Barksdale is awaiting trial in Philadelphia for drug law violations from 2007. In December 2008, Barksdale was released on nominal bail in accordance with Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 600 by a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.
The Judge ordered Barksdale be placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring in Montgomery County while awaiting his trial in Philadelphia.
The following were charged for Violations of the Drug Act and Firearms Related Charges were:
1. Charles Barksdale/Powell; 44 Ross Street, Plymouth Meeting; 25 years of age; bail was set at $100,000 cash and a detainer was lodged by Montgomery County Adult Probation
2. Raymond Powell; 44 Ross Street, Plymouth Meeting; 26 years of age; bail was set at $250,000 cash and a detainer was lodged by Pennsylvania State Probation and Parole
3. Asmar Gary; 835 Tremont Avenue, Norristown; 23 years of age; bail was set at $75,000 cash and a detainer was lodged by Pennsylvania State Probation and Parole
4. Victor Johnson; 807 Green Street, Norristown; 20 years of age; bail was set at $50,000 cash
5. Sheena Medley; 807 Green Street, Norristown, 25 years of age; bail was set at $50,000
6. Kenneth Thomas; 3127 West Dauphin Street, Philadelphia; 18 years of age; bail was set at $50,000
The following is a list of pertinent evidence seized by Detectives
44 Ross Street, Plymouth Meeting
1. Large amount of crack cocaine
2. SKS Assault Rifle loaded with 7.62 mm ammunition
3. Don Wessom .22 caliber firearm loaded with 5 rounds
4. .380 caliber firearm loaded with 5 rounds
5. A Stungun
6. Assorted firearm ammunition throughout the residence
7. Scales and baggies used for packaging narcotics for sale
807 Green Street, Norristown
1. Crack cocaine packaged to sell
2. 9 mm Browning firearm loaded with 13 rounds
4. .380 Browning Arms firearm loaded with one round in the chamber ready to shoot
5. 38 special Ind. Nac. De Armas Revolver loaded with four live rounds
6. Video and Audio Surveillance System that was fully operational at the time of the search warrant
7. Assorted firearm ammunition throughout the residence
After the arrest of the above-mentioned individuals, detectives executed an additional search warrant on a vehicle connected to Asmar Gary. Officers seized baggies of cocaine, a .32 Caliber Revolver containing one live round and drug paraphernalia used for the distribution of narcotics.
Based upon the evidence found, including the assault rifle and firearms, the investigation will remain open to determine if there are any links to recent crimes of violence and robberies that have occurred in the area.
The defendants were arraigned before District Judge Francis J. Bernhardt and were remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 9, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. in front of District Judge Bernhardt.
ADA Tonya Lupinacci is prosecuting the case.