Pa.: Drug bust cache includes a dozen guns

By Tyra Braden
The Morning Call

Federal officials found a dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition -- including about 600 belted rounds ready for use in machine guns -- at a Wilson home they searched after a drug bust Friday in Easton.

"Generally, I'm not big on show-and-tell," Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Thursday at a news conference, "but I thought this was important." Morganelli, flanked by Dennis Mihalopoulos of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Palmer Township police Chief Bruce Fretz, had displayed the arsenal and drugs on a conference table in his office. "I want to drive home the point today of what's out there on the street" and what police must deal with, Morganelli said. "People wonder why there are shootings out there every night."

Authorities arrested Robert Allen Murray II, 25, of 2101 Washington Blvd., Wilson, owner of A-Team Contractors, 991 W. Bushkill St., Easton, and Christopher Lee Hendershot, 26, of 30 S. 13th St. The men were arrested after a 15-pound package, which included 2.2 pounds of cocaine and one pound of crystal methamphetamine hidden in two large, scented candles encased in glass, was delivered to Murray's business on Friday, authorities said.

Both men are in the county prison under $100,000 bail, charged with criminal attempt to possess a controlled substance, criminal attempt to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy.

Authorities had intercepted the package, which was mailed from Phoenix, when a drug-sniffing dog alerted officers that it might contain drugs. Mihalopoulos and Morganelli said they couldn't say why the package was considered suspicious.

Police in Phoenix contacted state police in Pennsylvania, and arrangements were made to get a search warrant to open the package and to have it delivered by an undercover police officer. Morganelli set the "wholesale" value of the drugs at $50,000.

The drugs were found inside the candles, and police said Murray, who identified himself as the contracting business owner, signed for the package. Hendershot was at the business at the time. Police said they found a .45-caliber MAC-11 machine pistol, which was loaded with about 30 rounds of ammunition, including a bullet in the chamber, in a car Murray was using.

Police then got a search warrant for Murray's home, which Mihalopoulos said is an apartment above a doctor's office. Seized were nine pistols, a machine pistol with a silencer, a sawed-off shotgun, magazines for the guns, drug paraphernalia, a small amount of marijuana and other items. Mihalopoulos said the guns, some of which were found in a metal container, covered in oil, ranged in value from $300 to $800.

Morganelli said Murray and Hendershot have not been charged with gun offenses because the investigation hasn't been completed. Mihalopoulos said federal agents would try to trace the weapons. Mihalopoulos said he believes the drugs and weapons are gang-related. Fretz, who works with the county's drug task force, described the guns as "assault-type" weapons.

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