Two men police said had just returned from Baltimore with raw heroin are in custody on felony drug charges.
Police said Devon Nakia Rochester, 38, of 230 Fourth Ave. had more than a dozen multicolored capsules of heroin hidden in his underwear after he was arrested about 3:22 p.m. Thursday by Altoona police and members of the Blair County Drug Task Force.
According to police, Rochester was a passenger in a gold-colored 1994 Honda driven by David Robenholt, 23, of 2 W. 11th St., Apt. 709, Tyrone. The men had just returned from Baltimore, where they bought the heroin for about $1,000, Altoona police Sgt. Detective Benjamin Jones said.
The 10 grams of heroin would likely break down into about 250 bags, police said, with a street value of $5,000.
"They more than quadruple their money," Jones said.
Tony Sassano, Regional Director with the state Attorney General's Office Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, praised the work of police, particularly Jones and Altoona Cpl. Christopher Moser, who were able to gather the intelligence that allowed police to know exactly when the pair were returning to the area.
Sassano said a small amount of cash was also found in the vehicle but more cash would have been made had the heroin hit the streets.
"When you buy it like that it's pretty pure," Sassano said. "That 10 grams, you can turn that into 15 grams by adding a cutting agent - what they call 'stepping on it.'"
Police received information Rochester was making runs to Baltimore to bring back heroin to Blair County, and police pulled over the Honda as it exited Interstate 99 at 17th Street. Rochester has a history of weapons violations, drug distribution and violence, police said, so officers approached the car with guns drawn.
Rochester and Robenholt were detained without incident before Altoona officers, along with agents from the Attorney General's Office, Logan Township police and investigators with the Blair County District Attorney's Office, conducted a warranted search of the car.
When questioned by police, Robenholt allegedly told investigators he had made at least one previous trip to Maryland to buy heroin, that he was unemployed and that he sold the drug to help pay his bills.
Rochester and Robenholt awaited arraignment Thursday night on conspiracy and drug charges, including felony possession with intent to deliver heroin.
Police said Rochester is a Baltimore native who has lived in Blair County for at least a decade. Online court records indicate he has spent time in jail for assault, drugs and driving under the influence.
Thursday's operation was funded through the continued support of Operation Our Town and the investigation into Rochester and Robenholt remains ongoing, police said.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.