“This is an awful example of that old saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,'” Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said as the Bensalem Police pulled back the curtain on one of the largest opioid busts in the township’s history.
“Here you have trash that has been turned into poison treasure that is being used to poison our citizens every day,” Weintraub continued.
Wheelabrator Falls Inc., a “special waste” plant in Falls Township, was chosen for the destruction of pharmaceuticals. Some pills were damaged during manufacturing, while others simply did not meet certain standards, and included vicodin, oxycontin, adderall, and lorazepam.
The drug ring involved employees of the Wheelabrator Falls facility taking advantage of their positions to snatch hundreds of thousands of pills designated for incineration and sell them to drug dealers. These would in turn be sold to anyone and everyone who was willing to buy them.
As part of the destruction process, a vehicle would transport the medications and deposit them into a large garbage pile. Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran said suspected employees used a crane to separate the drugs from the other trash.
“The bad guys know what’s there. They cherry pick it like they’re going to put it on the conveyor belt to be burned, but they knock it off the side,” Harran explained. “They then go back later to get it. They knew exactly what they were doing.
The investigation turned up more than 200,000 pills worth more than $1.2 million collectively, leading Weintraub to compare the operation to the film Oceans 11 because of its size, scope, and sophistication. Illegal pills were distributed all the way from Philadelphia through Bucks County and into New Jersey.
It all began with officers making an arrest for illegal marijuana in New Jersey, and when detectives began pulling on threads, more details began to unravel. Authorities were unable to reveal specific details about the case because it is still ongoing, with more arrests expected in the future.
The Bensalem Township Police and the FBI Philadelphia Division collaborated on the case and also thanked Wheelabrator, Inc. for cooperating in the investigation.
WBCB’s Sam Goldberg contributed to this report.