The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 8, 2013

$1M in heroin seized during traffic stop

Patrick Buchnowski

SOMERSET — State police in Somerset County say they seized $1 million worth of heroin after a traffic stop on the turnpike Friday.

Law enforcement authorities are calling it one of the biggest drug busts on the turnpike in Somerset County history.

Trooper Michael Volk stopped a westbound Chevrolet Impala traveling 14 mph over the speed limit around 10 a.m.

In the the trunk were 1,000 bricks of heroin, authorities say.

“We believe this to be one of the largest seizures of a controlled substance ever in Somerset County,” District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said during a news conference Monday at the Somerset County Courthouse.

The driver was identified as Warren Charles Green IV, 27, of Pittsburgh.

“Trooper Volk’s action in making this stop has touched who’s to say how many lives,” Capt. Gregory Bacher said. “How many lives would be lost or at least changed drastically over a million dollars worth of heroin?”

Volk said the car was traveling through Somerset Township at 79 mph.

Troopers used a search warrant and a drug-sniffing dog. When they popped open the trunk, they found the heroin, they said.

Volk said each heroin brick contained five bundles. Each bundle contained 10 stamp bags worth about $20 in street value.

Investigators wouldn’t say where Green picked up the drugs or where he was headed.

But it’s a good bet at least some of the drugs would end up in Somerset County,  Lazzari-Strasiser said.

“There’s some perception that the turnpike is just a thoroughfare, and because it was on the turnpike that is wasn’t intended for Somerset County,” she said. “These stamp bags, whatever city their ultimate destination would be, would have ended up here in some form or fashion either by somebody going to Pittsburgh to buy it or a smaller quantity for sale being delivered here.”

Green was arraigned by on-call District Judge Sandra Stevanus of Confluence on a charge of possession with intent to deliver heroin. Green was sent to the Somerset County Jail, where he is being held on $750,000 bond.

There have been other high-profile drug busts on the turnpike in Somerset County.

In August 2009, troopers seized an estimated $1 million in heroin during a traffic stop. Deshawn N. Ulmer, 45, of Pittsburgh, was driving a Dodge Charger and was entering the Allegheny Tunnel without headlights on when he was stopped.

Trooper Westley Berkebile found the 25,000 stamp bags of heroin stuffed in the trunk.

Troopers said the driver was headed to Pittsburgh.