By Joe Holden


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CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — The Chester County District Attorney’s Office released the results of “Operation Wildfire” on Wednesday, an operation that netted the arrests of more than 70 alleged heroin and opioid dealers. Most of the arrests happened in November and December, and the latest one came Wednesday morning.

The accused dealers were pushing powerful, and in some cases, deadly narcotics, and using firepower to protect their business enterprise.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan showed an AR-15 that undercover law enforcement was able to purchase from a suspected drug dealer.

“There are a couple people working in concert or leading our informants to other drug dealers for other drugs they themselves were not selling,” said Assistant District Attorney Michelle Barone.

In all, 77 alleged heroin and opioid dealers were taken down in what prosecutors call “Operation Wildfire.” Hogan said 7,000 doses of fentanyl-laced product was taken off the streets of Chester County.

Most of the arrests include charges of drug and gun trafficking, and a handful of the defendants are accused of distributing drugs that resulted in death.

Hogan also called on Philadelphia leaders to establish a drug task force. Hogan directed responsibility for the rampant heroin and opioid epidemic in the Delaware Valley on what he says is the lack of a Philadelphia drug task force.

As for those arrested, it wasn’t a sophisticated network, authorities said the defendants acted individually in business for themselves.

“You are going to see there is a mixture of men and women, you’re going to see that you’re looking at white, brown and black, you’re going to see that you are looking at young, middle-aged and old because the dealers of this poison – heroin and opioids – cut across all genders, all ages, all ethnic groups, all socioeconomic groups. This is America. America is dealing these drugs because America is using these drugs,” said Hogan.

In one case, an unidentified woman was found dead inside her Phoenixville apartment from an overdose.

Police say surveillance video showed she purchased heroin from mother and son Doreen and Patrick Harner. The transaction happened right on Bridge Street in the center of Phoenixville. The pair is charged with a count of drug delivery resulting in death.