Shapiro: Serious drug ring shut down

AG announces more charges against three people allegedly involved in trafficking meth, cocaine

Attorney General Josh Shapiro (left) is joined by Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw during a news conference Tuesday to announce additional charges against three people who allegedly trafficked drugs in Clearfield County. Mirror photo by Greg Bock

CLEARFIELD — Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday announced more charges against three people who allegedly trafficked $1.5 million in methamphetamine and cocaine.

“I’m back in Clearfield County today to announce the shutdown of a serious drug ring that imported large amounts of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine from Akron, Ohio, and then sold these poisons on the streets of Clearfield County,” Shapiro said during a news conference at the Clearfield County Courthouse.

The investigation by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control into the trafficking of large amounts of crystal meth and cocaine from Akron to Clearfield County started in September 2017 when an agent developed a source that allowed investigators to make controlled buys of meth.

Investigators allege five people were instrumental in keeping the flow of drugs into Clearfield County going in 2017 and 2018, and on Tuesday, Shapiro said additional charges were being filed against Kenneth Quade, 31, and Sondra McQuillen, 53, both of Houtzdale; and her alleged source in Akron, Ohio, 49-year-old James Thomas.

Thomas is charged with two counts of corrupt organizations, 12 counts of possession with intent to deliver and four counts of related charges for selling crystal methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs to McQuillen.

McQuillen is charged with nine counts of possession with intent to deliver and six counts of other related charges. Quade was found in McQuillen’s residence at the time a search warrant was executed. Quade is charged with delivery and conspiracy to deliver.

Thomas was originally charged by the Drug Enforce­ment Administra­tion in connection with drug seizures of about 2 pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine, firearms and almost $50,000 cash from his home and business.

McQuillen, along with Jason and Joyce Merritts, who investigators alleged sold meth at their Clearfield County residence even while their children ages 10 and 12 were home, were arrested in July after a grand jury investigation.

Also implicated in the meth ring was Donald Mullens, who Shapiro said died in May from a drug overdose. Mullens allegedly bought meth from Thomas in Ohio to bring back to Clearfield County from early 2017 until he died.

According to the grand jury investigation, Mullens would drive to Akron every week or every two weeks to buy meth, and in April 2018, Mullens allegedly bought a pound of meth from Thomas once or twice a week for $10,000 per pound.

McQuillen allegedly made 26 trips to Ohio to buy drugs, according to the investigation. McQuillen was pulled over after a trip to Ohio in late July and was found to have 6 ounces of meth, along with some cocaine and some prescription drugs.

“In September, our agents searched McQuillen’s home and found her, and Kenneth Quade, surrounded by additional quantities of crystal methamphetamine and other drugs,” Shapiro said. “We put that information into a statewide investigative grand jury, leading to the charges against James Thomas, Sondra McQuillen and Kenneth Quade, that I am here to announce today.”

Shapiro said that during the 11-month investigation, the alleged dealers brought in $1.5 million worth of drugs to Clearfield County.

He said that amounted to 10,000 grams of crystal meth.

“Let me put that in real terms for you,” Shapiro said. “That equaled about 75 doses of crystal meth being used every single day here in Clearfield County. That’s a significant amount of poison being injected into our neighborhood.”

Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw said the attorney general has a long history of helping law enforcement and the people of Clearfield County and the latest investigation is an example of how the office comes through with the resources needed for these large-scale investigations.

“I appreciate it — the people here in Clearfield County appreciate all that you have done for us and we look forward to continued cooperation and collaboration with you,” Shaw told Shapiro.

Shapiro credited investigators and prosecutors in his office and the hard work and cooperation of the local police in Clearfield County, along with the DEA and police in Ohio, with shutting down the drug ring.

Shapiro said methamphetamine is a growing problem in Pennsylvania, particularly in rural areas, and it’s not the first large-scale meth ring his office has helped break up.

“We have no intention of ever letting up on this,” Shapiro said, adding it’s the collaborative effort of local, state and federal government agencies that makes investigations such as the one in Clearfield County possible.

“Bill Shaw demonstrates day in and day out what good, strong law enforcement work is, what collaboration is and what it means — in this case a safer community here in Clearfield County,” Shapiro said.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.