This article was originally published on GoErie.com on August 11, 2017
Investigators have shut down four crystal methamphetamine manufacturing operations that produced thousands of dollars worth of the drug in Erie County, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in Erie on Thursday.
Fifteen people have been charged with manufacturing a controlled substance and other drug-related charges in connection with the investigations, which began nearly two years ago.
Thirteen are already in custody, Shapiro said, and the two others are expected to turn themselves in shortly.
The largest operation, in which 10 people were charged, will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office. Shapiro said the operation had produced $32,000 worth of meth over 10 months, ending in March. Investigators charged the operation took place in a residence in the 2800 block of Feasler Street in Millcreek Township.
Five other people were charged in three separate cases and will be prosecuted by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
In the largest operation, investigators charged that Matthew Magalhaes, 39, and Mary Gula, 40, were the leaders of an operation in which eight people were recruited to purchase medications containing pseudoephedrine, which can be used in the manufacture of meth. The accused buyers were blocked from buying the medications on several occasions because of a statewide database that tracks purchases of the drug, Shapiro said.
In another of the cases, investigators in May discovered what appeared to be a methamphetamine cook site in a hole that had been dug into the hillside behind Elk Valley Elementary School, in Lake City. Charged in the case is 30-year-old Justin McClay, of Lake City.
“It’s not just about the drugs that they were making, it’s about the risk that they put these children in,” Shapiro said. “This is how callous these dealers are.”
Investigators also recovered meth-making supplies after a search warrant was executed at a residence in the 2400 block of Cranberry Street in Erie on July 27, court records show. Charged in the case are Richard Grassi, 50, and Stephon Hardik, 53.
And two children, ages 5 and 6, were removed from a residence on Cherry Street in Lake City after investigators found evidence of meth production in the home, Shapiro said. Brian Potter, 41, and Emily Brandon 25, face charges after a search warrant was executed May 4.
The charges are a result of a joint investigation by the attorney general’s office, Albion Borough Police, Erie police, Erie County Detectives, the district attorney’s office, Girard Borough Police, Lake City Police, Millcreek police and state police.
Charged in the investigation:
Operation 1, Millcreek Township
- Matthew Magalhaes, 39, of Feasler Street, Millcreek
- Mary Gula, 40, of Smith Street, Lake City
- Justin Artz, 38, of Woodcock Drive, Girard
- Steven Cozad, 58, of Sixth Avenue, Corry
- Alexander Kaufman, 35, of West 31st Street, Erie
- Evelyn Lotz, 30, of Olin Avenue, Girard
- Joseph Morrison, 38, of Wales Road, Massillon, Ohio
- Brian Pike, 42, of East 30th Street, Erie
- Ruben Rivera, 38, of East 11th Street, Erie
- Nathan Sampsell, 34, of Mechanic Street, Girard
Operation 2, Lake City
- Brian Potter, 41, of Cherry Street, Lake City
- Emily Brandon 25, of Cherry Street, Lake City
Operation 3, City of Erie
- Richard Grassi, 50, of Cranberry Street, Erie
- Stephon Hardik, 53, of Cranberry Street, Erie
Operation 4, Lake City
- Justin McClay, 30, of Lake Street, Lake City