Authorities charge dealers, shut down $1.5M ‘crystal meth pipeline’ between Akron & Pennsylvania

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CLEARFIELD, Penn. — Authorities have shut down a drug pipeline running between Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio and charged a ring of drug dealers for trafficking and selling crystal meth and cocaine.

According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, James Thomas, 49, of Akron, as well as Sondra McQuillen, 53, and Kenneth Quade, 31, both of Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, are all facing felony charges related to the criminal operation.

The crystal meth, cocaine and other drugs distributed by this particular ring has an estimated street value of $1.5 million; this includes 10,000 grams of crystal meth.

“The illegal distribution of drugs is fueling an epidemic across Pennsylvania,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a press conference Thursday, “Crystal meth trafficking is on the rise, particularly in rural parts of our Commonwealth, and our agents and prosecutors will investigate and charge it wherever we find it. I’m proud to announce that the Akron, Ohio to Clearfield, Pennsylvania crystal meth pipeline has been shut down.”

James Thomas (Courtesy: Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office)

Charges were originally filed against the suspects in September 2018, however Thursday the Attorney General’s Office announced additional charges.

Thomas, according to officials, sold drugs to McQuillen to take back to Pennsylvania and sell.  Thomas has been charged with two counts of corrupt organizations and 12 counts of possession with intent to deliver and four counts of related charges for selling crystal methamphetamine.

He was originally charged by the Drug Enforcement Administration, back in September, in connection with drug seizures of approximately two pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine, firearms and almost $50,000 cash from his home and business.

Sondra McQuillen (Courtesy: Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office)

McQuillen was charged Thursday with nine counts of possession with intent to deliver and six counts of other related charges after investigators found drugs, drug paraphernalia and a drug scale at her residence.

In September, McQuillen, and Jason and Joyce Merritts were charged with trafficking and selling crystal meth, cocaine and other drugs from Akron, Ohio to Clearfield County. At that time, the Merritts were also charged with child endangerment for conducting drug deals while their 10- and 12-year-old children were at home.

Quade, who was found in McQuillen’s residence when authorities searched her home, was identified by officials as another drug dealer conspiring with McQuillen and charged Thursday with delivery and conspiracy to deliver.

“Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration between our office, Akron, Ohio law enforcement and the DEA – and the hard work of the men and women of the 43rd Statewide Investigative Grand Jury – we’ve broken up this drug ring peddling its poisons in Pennsylvania,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “We’re doing whatever it takes attack this problem in cities, towns and counties across Pennsylvania – and anywhere else our investigations may lead.”

**Read the full press release from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, here**

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