Three arrested in Morrell Park heroin bust

  • Alexandria McKenna

  • Ryan Luigaie

  • Mary Elizabeth Heft

Mary Eliza­beth Heft doesn’t live like a ste­reo­typ­ic­al drug deal­er.

The 28-year-old Mor­rell Park res­id­ent owns a well-kept brick row­house at the end of a quiet block with a lush grassy prop­erty. She has plants on her stoop and a bird bath in the front yard. She and her 2-year-old son live with­in blocks of sev­er­al pub­lic play­grounds and schools.

But po­lice now claim that Heft was pois­on­ing the chil­dren of her neigh­bor­hood with heroin. Phil­adelphia nar­cot­ics of­ficers ar­res­ted Heft along with a loc­al couple on April 15 for al­legedly push­ing drugs at three loc­al play­grounds. Heft was a sup­pli­er to Ry­an Lui­gaie, 22, and his girl­friend, Al­ex­an­dria McK­enna, 28, who in turn sold heroin to teen­agers at Chalf­ont, Pi­car­i­ello and Mitchell play­grounds, ac­cord­ing to Sgt. Robert Fri­el of the Nar­cot­ics Field Unit. Heft is still on pa­role for a pri­or drug-re­lated con­vic­tion in the Read­ing area, too.

In­vest­ig­at­ors did not say how they learned of Heft’s al­leged drug activ­ity. On April 15, mem­bers of the Nar­cot­ics Field Unit Squad 4F were watch­ing Heft’s house on the 3500 block of Kyle Road when they al­legedly saw Lui­gaie pay a vis­it at about 4 p.m. Lui­gaie left the house in a 1994 Ford Ex­plorer with McK­enna as a pas­sen­ger. Po­lice stopped the vehicle nearby and, dur­ing an ini­tial in­vest­ig­a­tion of the oc­cu­pants, al­legedly found 10 pack­ets of heroin and one Sub­ox­ome strip. Sub­ox­ome is a sched­ule 3 con­trolled sub­stance pre­scribed to treat heroin de­pend­ence.

Po­lice also seized $3,427 cash, ob­tained a search war­rant for the vehicle and al­legedly found an­oth­er 136 pack­ets of heroin. In­vest­ig­at­ors be­lieve that Lui­gaie and McK­enna were en route to sell heroin when po­lice stopped them.

At about 9 p.m., po­lice served a search war­rant at Heft’s home and al­legedly found 950 pack­ets of heroin, 90 Xanax pills, a large quant­ity of homegrown marijuana, a bag of nar­cot­ic mush­rooms, a bottle of li­quid meth­adone, 12 Sub­ox­ome strips and $8,462 cash, along with a loaded Smith and Wesson re­volver that had been re­por­ted stolen in Phil­adelphia. The nar­cot­ics have a com­bined street value of about $12,000, po­lice said. Heft and her tod­dler were home at the time of the raid.

McK­enna is a res­id­ent of the 3200 block of Kil­burn Road in the Mor­rell Park area, while Lui­gaie lives on the 2700 block of Mower St. in Holme Circle. All three de­fend­ants were charged with drug pos­ses­sion, drug pos­ses­sion with in­tent to de­liv­er and con­spir­acy. Heft was also charged with be­ing a con­victed felon in pos­ses­sion of a fire­arm. Be­cause Heft’s home is with­in 1,000 feet of LaB­rum Middle School, the de­fend­ants face ad­di­tion­al sen­ten­cing sanc­tions if con­victed.

In­form­a­tion about Heft’s pri­or drug case in Berks County was not avail­able via on­line re­cords. Her pa­role had been trans­ferred in­to Phil­adelphia County, po­lice said. Prop­erty re­cords show that Heft bought the Kyle Road house for $180,000 in 2009. ••

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