A major heroin ring that operated in Cambria and Somerset counties has been disabled with the arrest of the suspected ringleader and three dealers at a motel in Richland Township.

The arrests culminated a year-long investigation into heroin trafficking in the area by the Cambria County Drug Task Force, in cooperation with local and federal law-enforcement officers, Cambria County District Attorney David Tulowitzki said Friday.

The alleged ringleader, Clifford Williams, 22, of Pittsburgh, was lodged in the Cambria County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond after an arraignment before District Judge John Barron of Upper Yoder Township.

Williams and three other suspects were taken into custody early Thursday at two rooms at the motel, which was not identified.

Williams’ organization was selling approximately $40,000 worth of heroin a week throughout Cambria County and into the Windber area of Somerset County, Tulowitzki said.

During a search of the two rooms, police said they seized more than 1,200 plastic baggies of heroin with a street value of $45,000, approximately $5,000 cash and a loaded .357 caliber handgun.

It is the largest seizure of heroin by the task force since its formation 15 years ago, the district attorney said.

Officers had to force their way into the rooms after the suspects refused to answer their knocks on the doors, task force Supervisor Kevin Price said.

Williams scuffled with police before being taken into custody, Price said.

The others arrested are Scott Lavigne, 24, of Windber; Stacie Turner, 18, of Homer City; and Dawn Childs, 32, of Pittsburgh.

They were arraigned before Barron on drug charges and are in the county jail – Lavigne in lieu of $200,000 bond and the two women in lieu of $100,000 each. Hearing dates are still being set.

Four others were arrested late last week and this week in the on-going probe. They were identified as Michael Byrd, 27, of New York City; Nieves Calderon, 28, of West Grove, Chester County; Diontai Moore of Pittsburgh; and Bryclia Warren of Philadelphia.

The task force also has arrest warrants for other members of the Williams’ organization and is actively looking for them, Price said.

“These arrests mean a tremendous amount of heroin is off the street, and I’d expect to see the price of heroin to escalate with the arrests of Willams and his organization,” Tulowitzki said.

While the amount of heroin seized is a record, that does not indicate the problem is suddenly getting worse, Price said.

Rather, it’s a reflection of the intensive work by law-enforcement agencies to combat the problem, Price and Tulowitzki said.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the cooperation. It’s very heartwarming to see the 100 percent cooperation,” Tulowitzki said.

Participating in the investigation were police from Johnstown, Windber and Richland Township; state police; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Taking the alleged ring out of operation doesn’t mean that the heroin problem no longer exists in the area, Price cautioned. It’s one that the task force continues to battle, he said.

Some information that led to the arrests stemmed from a drug sweep in the Windber area about two weeks ago by the Somerset County Drug Task Force, Price said.

Trending Video

Recommended for you