The arrest of two suspected drug dealers has put a “dent,” for now, in the heroin trafficking trade in Franklin County, narcotics investigators said.
Michael P. Taylor, 31, and Melissa A. Kneip, 20, are both charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute the drug, according to court records.
They were arrested Friday and were being held in the Franklin County Jail on $50,000 bond each.
Officers with the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit said they have information that Taylor and Kneip took over supplying former clients of Christopher M. Albrecht after he was arrested earlier this month on a grand jury indictment charging him with second-degree murder and distribution of a controlled substance in the overdose death of Danielle J. Barlow of Pacific last April.
Task force investigators had been looking for the two suspects after receiving information that they were dealing heroin for cash and stolen property.
On Friday, while investigating an unrelated case near the Jefferson County line, task force officers saw a vehicle matching one used by Taylor and Kneip and followed it to a home on Highway NN in the Catawissa area, according to reports.
The officers were given permission to search the residence and inside they found three grams of pure heroin along with some cash, several guns and a large amount of paraphernalia used to “cut” and package the heroin for individual sales.
“They said they were selling $1,000 worth of heroin per day,” said Detective Cpl. Scott Briggs of the drug task force. “They admitted using heroin that day,” he added.
“This was a classic case,” remarked Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the task force. “These two were going into St. Louis to purchase raw heroin, then whipping it up with other ingredients and packaging it for sale.”
Grellner said the three grams of raw heroin could be cut into 90 to 120 individual doses that sell for $10 each.
Among items found in the house were a package containing 1,000 empty capsules and scales to weigh out individual doses, Grellner said. Officers also found a powder used to dilute the pure heroin.
“They admitted to distributing heroin,” Grellner said. “They were taking cash and stolen property in trade for the drug.”
Grellner said the task force is working with detectives from other communities in attempting to connect the property to burglaries or thefts from vehicles.
Friday’s arrests kept a quantity of heroin off the streets, both Grellner and Briggs noted.
“Our hope was that some people out there didn’t get their heroin for the weekend,” Briggs remarked. “We feel this put a pretty good dent in the heroin trade out here.”
“We were happy getting this off the street,” Grellner said. “To get that much raw heroin was a good score.”
Grellner said the task force will continue its efforts to cut down on the suppliers distributing heroin in the county.
After Albrecht was arrested Wednesday, July 10, on the grand jury indictment, a task force detective said that the unit was looking at other people who were associated with him.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Detective Darryl Balleydier told The Missourian. “He had associates and we’re currently trying to track them down.”
Albrecht faces a sentence of 10 to 30 years, or life, in prison on the second-degree murder charge, and five to 15 years on the felony drug distribution charges.