Elizabethtown police Chief Jack Mentzer said prescription drugs have become gateway drugs in his community, leading to use of more serious substances like heroin.

Local police made a dent in the local prescription drug trade last week after making 16 arrests, the culmination of a one-year undercover operation.

Participating in the sweep were officers from Elizabethtown Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police Fugitive Task Force, state police K-9 unit, Northwest Lancaster County Regional Police, Mount Joy Borough Police, Columbia Borough Police and the York County Sheriff's Office.

Some of the drug sales, including oxycodone and morphine tablets, were in public areas such as the K-Mart parking lot on South Market Street in Elizabethtown, the Burger King parking lot on Cloverleaf Road in Mount Joy Township and the Turkey Hill parking lot on Cloverleaf Road in Elizabethtown, according to criminal complaints.

Morphine, oxycodone and dilaudid, a pain reliever, were among the prescription drugs sold.

In one case on Sept. 25, Amanda L. Spayd, 25, of Mount Joy, delivered five morphine tablets to a confidential informant in exchange for $100, according to a criminal complaint. The deal happened in the area of the Burger King parking lot at South Market Street and Cloverleaf Road.

On Sept 11, Jeffery Myers, 37, of Elizabethtown, sold 40 oxycodone tablets for $280 to an informant in the K-Mart parking lot on South Market Street, according to a police.

Other deals included cocaine and heroin sales.

Mentzer said officers had the help of confidential informants who supplied inside information or were present during a transaction.

“The best policing in the world cannot happen without the police working with the public and the public working with the police,” Mentzer said.

Some of those who were arrested have spoken to police, giving them more leads in their investigation.

“They're very tight-lipped about where their source comes from, but they will tell us how they got involved,” Mentzer said.

That helps police get a pulse of what's happening in the community and contributes to the length of the operation.

“The public gets frustrated with us when it doesn't move as quickly as people would like to see,” Mentzer said. “These things take a lot of time.”

Mentzer did not call the group of arrests a drug ring, citing that the people who were arrested were not working in concert to sell drugs.

After the warrant sweep, Mentzer said he expects to see a decrease in thefts and other crime.

But that might not last long.

“Unfortunately, as quickly as we take dealers off the street, there are new ones in their place because there is an open market,” Mentzer said.

The market thrives because users and sellers are able to forge prescriptions, get a doctor to over-prescribe, claim medications were stolen in order to get more, or steal from a family member's medicine cabinet, Mentzer said.

The court process will eventually address treatment, rehabilitation and counseling programs for those facing charges, he said.

In addition to facing prison time, Mentzer said he expects that most, if not all, of the people charged in the raid will come before the county drug court, where they will be given treatment and placed under judicial monitoring and supervision.

“What's the best we can do to help these people not only through prison but through rehabilitation and counseling services?” Mentzer said.

Here's who was arrested and their charges:

•Jeffrey Myers, 37, of Elizabethtown, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance by. Myers was arraigned before District Judge Jayne Duncan and was released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

•Elizabeth M. Myers, 36, of Elizabethtown, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance. Myers was arraigned before Duncan and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.

•Robert J. Mick Jr., 30, of Conoy Township, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance and one felony count of criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. Mick was arraigned before Duncan and was committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.

•Joni Lynn Robinson, 53, of Mount Joy Township, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance. Robinson was arraigned before Duncan, and was committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.

•Kierston E. Marvel, 25, of Elizabethtown, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance and one felony count of criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. Marvel was arraigned before Duncan, and was committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.

•Melinda L. LeFever, 59, of Lititz, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance. LeFever was arraigned before Duncan, and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.

•George Manuel Maldonado, 26, of Columbia, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance. Maldonado was arraigned before Duncan, and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.

Also pending against Maldonado are charges for felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and felony possession of a stolen firearm, after police found a stolen handgun and 30 bags of heroin in Maldonado's possession at the time of his arrest.

•Brandon M. Smith, 27, of Columbia, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance and one summary count of driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked. Smith was arraigned before Duncan, and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.

•Phillip James Hayhurst, 23, of Elizabethtown, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance. Hayhurst was arraigned before Duncan, and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.

•Jason M. Neiss, 27, of Elizabethtown, charged with one felony count of burglary and one misdemeaner count of making terroristic threats. Neiss was arraigned before Duncan, and was released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

•Diane E. Espenshade, 40, of West Donegal Township, charged with two felony counts of delivery of a controlled substance. Espenshade was arraigned before Duncan, and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.

•Terri Lynn Kaylor, 33, of Bainbridge, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance. Kaylor was arraigned before Duncan, and was released on $10,000 unsecured bail.

•Rachel Ann Simms, 33, of Columbia, charged with two felony counts of delivery of a controlled substance. Simms was arraigned before Duncan, and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.

•Joseph Lee Hess, 45, of Maytown, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance and one felony count of criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. Hess was arraigned before District Judge David Brian, and was released on $15,000 unsecured bail.

•Amanda L. Spayd, 25, of Mount Joy, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of felony endangering the welfare of children. Spayd was arraigned before Duncan, and was released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

•Taidje B. Mullen, 27, of York, charged with one felony count of delivery of a controlled substance by. Mullen was arraigned before Duncan, and was released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

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