Bustleton man among 27 facing meth charges

A state grand jury has in­dicted a North­east Phil­adelphia res­id­ent and 19 Bucks County res­id­ents as part of an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar methamphet­am­ine traf­fick­ing ring with links to Mex­ico and dis­tri­bu­tion points throughout east­ern Pennsylvania.

At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Linda Kelly iden­ti­fied the in­vest­ig­a­tion as Op­er­a­tion Blo­wout dur­ing a Nov. 28 news con­fer­ence and claimed that par­ti­cipants in the drug net­work sold “crys­tal meth” worth more than $3.5 mil­lion from 2007 to 2011.

Kelly named 27 de­fend­ants, in­clud­ing Fran­cis Gu­lich, 62, of 1939 Grant Ave. in Bustleton, who al­legedly sup­plied meth routinely in pound and mul­tiple-ounce quant­it­ies to at least 13 co-de­fend­ants from a vari­ety of Bucks com­munit­ies.

Gu­lich also was a middle­man, re­ly­ing on his own sup­pli­er, 72-year-old Sim Brad­ley of the 7400 block of Wal­nut Lane in West Oak Lane, said in­vest­ig­at­ors, who did not dis­close Brad­ley’s own source of the syn­thet­ic stim­u­lant drug.

Ul­ti­mately, however, the meth ori­gin­ated in Mex­ico, au­thor­it­ies be­lieve. Spe­cific­ally, bulk quant­it­ies were smuggled across the U.S. bor­der in­to Mc­Al­len, Texas, then shipped to the Read­ing area, where Raul Cosme, 38, al­legedly took the de­liv­er­ies. Cosme resided in Mil­ford, Del., au­thor­it­ies said.

Cosme al­legedly sold  the drugs to Robert H. Snyder, 53, of Pott­stown, who resold them to two men from Tioga County, Pa., and an­oth­er from Berks County.

One of the Tioga men, Wes­ley B. White, 53, al­legedly used a net­work of deal­ers in Bucks County to dis­trib­ute the drugs. They in­cluded Joseph M. Ragnoli, 44, of Wycombe; John D. Taylor, 53, of Churchville; Dean Bowers, 46, of Doylestown; Scott A. Hop­kin­son Sr., 42, of Levit­town; and Mar­lene A. Al­brecht, 46, of Dub­lin.

White also was a primary link between the Cosme/Snyder branch of the or­gan­iz­a­tion and the Brad­ley/Gu­lich branch, in that White al­legedly bought meth from one of Gu­lich’s cus­tom­ers, John S. Hodg­son, 62, of Levit­town.

In ad­di­tion to Hodg­son, Gu­lich al­legedly dealt meth to Mark W. Kasper, 39, and his wife, Bar­bara Kasper, 39, both of Levit­town; along with Philip M. To­masella, 40, of Levit­town; Al­ex­an­der Shepelen­ko, 66, of Mor­ris­ville; Joseph C. Bogn­er, 47, of Bris­tol; and James Howard Sim­mers Sr., age un­known, of Levit­town.

Hodg­son al­legedly dealt to his broth­er, Joseph R. Hodg­son, 65, of Yard­ley; along with John Mc­Don­ald, 61, of Mor­ris­ville; Sher­wood W. White, 63, of Levit­town; Nancy M. Diaz, 53, of Levit­town; Tina Mar­ie Wag­n­er-Erb, 51, of Ben­s­alem; and Eliza­beth J. Naylon, 46, of Ivy­land.

Pennsylvania State Po­lice, Bucks County de­tect­ives, Phil­adelphia po­lice and nu­mer­ous oth­er law en­force­ment agen­cies con­trib­uted to Op­er­a­tion Blo­wout, dur­ing which they ex­ecuted al­most 30 search war­rants, seiz­ing about four pounds of meth, one partly dis­mantled meth lab, about 100 fire­arms, $110,000 in cash and 16 vehicles.

They also seized drug-pack­aging ma­ter­i­als and paraphernalia as well as al­leged drug-trans­ac­tion re­cords. Au­thor­it­ies made use of live sur­veil­lance, wireta­ps and more than 30 un­der­cov­er drug pur­chases to build their case.

All de­fend­ants ex­clud­ing Bogn­er, Bar­bara Kasper, Schepelen­ko and To­masella were charged with two counts of par­ti­cip­at­ing in a cor­rupt or­gan­iz­a­tion.

Ragnoli was charged with 21 counts of de­liv­er­ing a con­trolled sub­stance, while Snyder, Wes­ley White, Cosme, John Hodg­son, Gu­lich, and Brad­ley were charged with 20 counts each.

Oth­er crim­in­al charges filed in the case in­clude con­spir­acy, un­law­ful use of a com­mu­nic­a­tions fa­cil­ity, un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of a fire­arm, deal­ing in un­law­ful pro­ceeds and pos­sess­ing a con­trolled sub­stance.

Au­thor­it­ies did not an­nounce court dates for the de­fend­ants or their in­di­vidu­al bail statuses.

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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