Drug Bust
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Authorities said three Clearfield County residents have been arrested and charged for their roles in a multi state drug ring operation worth $1.5 million. Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced felony drug charges Monday morning against 53 year old Sondra McQuillen 37 year old Jason Merritts and 32 year old Joyce Merritts. The Merritts also face charges of endangering the welfare of children. Authorities said their two kids, ages 10 and 12, were present during many of the drug buys in their home. "The illegal distribution of drugs is fueling an epidemic across Pennsylvania," Shapiro said. "This case is particularly egregious, since the defendants are charged with selling drugs in the presence of two young children. That's reprehensible, and we're holding them accountable." The investigation began in September 2017 when a confidential informant made controlled purchases of drugs from the Merritts and was able to identify who was providing them drugs, according to authorities. Authorities identified the dealers as McQuillen, of Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, James Thomas, of Ohio; and Donald Mullens, who authorities say died of an apparent drug overdose in May 2018. Investigators said McQuillen traveled to Akron, Ohio, over two dozen times to obtain methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs from a source, according to the attorney general's office. In July 2018, authorities followed McQuillen to Ohio on three occasions, wherein she picked up drugs, according to investigators. On July 26, authorities conducted a traffic stop and searched her vehicle. Investigators found six ounces of methamphetamine, 16 ounces of cocaine and other drugs, according to the attorney general's office. Authorities also arrested the Merritts that same day. McQuillen is charged with multiple counts of possession with the intent to deliver delivery, corrupt organizations and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, according to Shapiro. The Merritts face similar charges in connection with the 18 purchases of methamphetamine and endangering the welfare of children. A joint investigation between the attorney general's office, Ohio law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration led to Thomas being federally charged in connection with drug seizures of methamphetamine, cocaine, firearms and nearly $50,000 cash from his home and business. "Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration we've broken up this drug ring peddling its poisons in Pennsylvania, We're doing whatever it takes attack this problem in cities, towns and counties across Pennsylvania and anywhere else our investigations may lead."