An Altoona man was selling 500 bags of heroin each week, according to Altoona police.
Juan Cook, 55, of Altoona faces felony heroin delivery and possession charges after allegedly selling a police informant heroin Wednesday night, a sale police said led to more suspected heroin in Cook's vehicle and at a 12th Street apartment.
Police arranged to buy two bricks of heroin from Cook through an informant. During the investigation, Cook went to the apartment of Kenneth L. Rohrer, 49, of 608 12th St., Apt. B. Police said Rohrer was also arrested and charged after officers seized about 48 bags of suspected heroin in Rohrer's apartment. Cook allegedly told investigators he had just returned from Pittsburgh on Wednesday where he bought 300 bags of heroin for $2,000.
"He's been doing this for several months now, at his own admission," said Altoona police Detective Sgt. Benjamin Jones. Jones said police believe Cook has been in business since late spring or early summer.
Wednesday's drug bust started with the informant arranging to buy two bricks, or 50 bags, of heroin from Cook for $800, according to court records.
Cook allegedly met the informant at 17th Street and Sixth Avenue, with Cook telling the informant he wanted to see him "dirty," meaning with a syringe, police noted.
Police said Cook then changed the meeting place to the 1200 block of Sixth Avenue, and about 9:08 p.m., Cook arrived in a Lincoln LS and walked into Rohrer's apartment building. Cook exited the building a few minutes later, met with the informant and the two walked back inside Rohrer's building, police alleged.
By 9:23 p.m., Cook left, followed by the informant, and the deal was done, police said. Instead of two bricks, Cook allegedly delivered 36 packets of suspected heroin marked "Murder #1" and told the informant he would have to follow him to get the other brick.
Instead, officers stopped Cook's Lincoln, and he was taken into custody. Police said Cook had the $800 in buy money, a Suboxone strip and 17 packets of suspected heroin stamped "Grudge" in red lettering on him when he was detained, plus $32 in other cash and a cellphone.
A search of Cook's Lincoln also turned up 150 bags of heroin.
Rohrer, police said, told police where they could find heroin hidden in his mattress after an empty heroin packet fell from his pocket during a police pat-down search for weapons and officers noticed two full bags of heroin on the floor at his apartment.
The investigation by Altoona police and the Blair County District Attorney's Office into Cook's alleged drug dealing was made possible with the help of Operation Our Town, police said.
Jones said police had been building a case against Cook.
"These investigations take time to develop a solid case," Jones said, adding that while drug arrests don't occur on a daily basis, police continue to make progress in shutting down pipelines of drugs into the city. "We are actively investigating people selling drugs every day of the week," Jones said.
Cook's arraignment was pending as of Thursday, and Rohrer remains in Blair County Prison in lieu of $75,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing is slated for Wednesday at Central Court.