California Drug Enforcer Caught With 247 Pounds Of Marijuana In PA
NY TIMES – A deputy sheriff who works for an anti-narcotics task force in Northern California found himself swept up in a $2 million marijuana arrest in Pennsylvania last week. The authorities are now trying to determine if any of the cases he worked on have been tainted.
According to a criminal complaint, Christopher M. Heath, the deputy, and another man, Tyler Long, 31, drove across the country to deliver more than 122 packages of marijuana, each weighing a pound or more, to a person in West Manheim Township, Pa.
But investigators had been tipped off, and they stopped the car early on Dec. 29. The pair were arrested, along with a third man in the car, identified as Ryan J. Falsone, 27.
In addition to the marijuana and $11,000 in cash, the authorities found Deputy Heath’s badge and his duty firearm, according to Tom Kearney, the York County district attorney. The Pennsylvania officers did not know before the arrest that Deputy Heath, 37, worked in law enforcement, he said.
Details about the drug bust were announced by Mr. Kearney on Monday and reported in local newspapers.
“One has to be both saddened and angry when you hear of something like this,” Mr. Kearney said, according to The Evening Sun of Hanover. “The work that is done by the task force and police officers in general is very dangerous work, and it is made more dangerous by the fact that occasionally there is a bad apple in the barrel.”
The three men were arrested on felony drug charges and each posted $1 million bail, the newspaper reported.
Yuba County is north of Sacramento, and marijuana growing has been a hot political issue. Early in 2015, the county board of supervisors put limits on cultivation, over substantial protests from some residents and support from others opposed to criminality around the drug business.
As part of the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Heath has worked on a task force known as NET-5, which targets illegal drug use, possession, manufacturing and sales.
The Appeal-Democrat newspaper quoted the unit’s commander, Martin Horan, as saying that the deputy had lead 62 criminal cases related to marijuana. The district attorney in Yuba County said he is now reviewing them to determine if the cases were still viable. Deputy Heath worked on the task force for three years, investigating crimes and serving as a witness, including in at least one major federal case.
The paper reported that the deputy had been placed on leave but would continue to receive his salary during the administrative investigation.