by Jonathan Weaver
A regional drug trafficker, who had been selling heroin in Kittanning and Ford City, was arrested earlier this week in Kittanning Borough.
Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi revealed that Armstrong County Narcotics Taskforce (ARMNET) officers arrested Wilfredo Soto, Jr., 23 of New Kensington, January 5th.
Soto, Jr. is currently incarcerated on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, delivery of a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and criminal use of a communications facility.
Soto, Jr. was arrested in Kittanning on a Westmoreland County warrant after ARMNET agents conducted a controlled purchase of heroin from Soto, Jr. along Johnston Avenue. Agents learned of the additional warrant after their operation.
According to Sheriff Bill Rupert, Soto, Jr. was wanted in Westmoreland County for sexual misconduct with a minor and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
ARMNET Coordinator Frank Pitzer stated that Soto, Jr. was responsible for bringing large quantities of heroin into Armstrong County and selling the drug, largely in the Kittanning and Ford City area.
Angela Lynn Wright of Kittanning was also charged with criminal conspiracy after police identified Wright as someone closely connected with Soto, Jr.
At the time of Soto, Jr’s arrest, he was found in possession of several hundred stamp bags of suspected heroin and several thousand dollars, including funds used in the controlled purchase by ARMNET agents thanks to assistance from a confidential informant.
Kittanning Borough Police Chief Bruce Mathews said the arrest comes after an investigation that had been active for a few months. He explained that local officers are also part of the ARMNET team and began the investigation.
“Through a joint effort between our officers and other officers of the ARMNET narcotics team, we successfully put the case together,” Mathews said.
He praised the officers involved across the region – including Kittanning Borough Officers Jamie Baum and Greg Koprivnak due to their direct involvement with the case – and said the local police department has always had a good working relationship with ARMNET.
“(Soto’s arrest) gets rid of that problem – that neighborhood will be safer. It shows that active participation by our officers in cooperation with other agencies can make a difference and can be effective,” Chief Mathews said. “That’s really important, especially when we’re talking about neighborhood policing.
“As frustrating as it gets at times, with the opportunity of so many different people to look at, it’s rewarding we’re able to give some resolve to that community.”
Along with the County Sheriff’s Department, Ford City and Freeport police officers, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police, assisted with the investigation.
News archives show that Soto, Jr. was also charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia in Ford City Borough for an incident that occurred along 5th Avenue the morning of November 13, 2012.