Welcome to the County of Berks
Operation Empire

‚Äč"OPERATION EMPIRE" 

MANUFACTURING & TRAFFICKING OF SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA  

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Charges:

  • Possession of FUB-AMB (Synthetic Marijuana)
  • Possession With Intent to Deliver FUB-AMB (Synthetic Marijuana)
  • Manufacturing FUB-AMB (Synthetic Marijuana)
  • Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities
  • Corrupt Organizations
  • Criminal Conspiracy to all charges 

On March 23, 2017, members of the Reading Police Vice Unit and Patrol Division, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents and the Berks County District Attorney's Drug Task Force conducted an early morning round-up of several defendants and simultaneously served nine (9) search warrants on six homes, one garage, and two storage units throughout Berks County. These defendants were wanted for various violations of the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances Act, specifically delivery and manufacturing of K-2 (synthetic marijuana). A total of seventy (70) law enforcement officers participated in this operation. 

The defendants were a close knit organization that was led by Eric Cintron, the principal target of the investigation. On August 20, 2013, Eric Cintron was initially arrested and charged by the Berks County District Attorney's Office with corrupt organizations, possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession of controlled substances, risking a catastrophe, dealing in unlawful activities and criminal conspiracy. Cintron later plead guilty to criminal conspiracy, possession with the intent to distribute, and corrupt organizations. Eric Cintron is currently housed in a Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution. 

Subsequently, detectives believed that Eric Cintron never stopped this operation after the initial arrest and continued to orchestrate his illegal operation while incarcerated. 

In September of 2016, agents from HSI learned that suspicious packages were being shipped to the Reading area that contained the chemical compound FUB-AMB. FUB-AMB is a Schedule I Controlled Substance that is utilized to manufacture synthetic marijuana. As a result, a joint investigation began. 

During this investigation, detectives and agents conducted extensive surveillance and made numerous undercover purchases of synthetic marijuana. The investigation revealed that the actors were having the controlled substances shipped from China to locations in Reading, PA. These chemicals were then manufactured into thousands of pounds of synthetic marijuana for distribution throughout Berks County and beyond. 

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Sealed search warrants were obtained from a Berks County Court of Common Pleas Judge and those warrants were served at the following locations: 

  • 526 Lancaster Avenue, 2nd floor apartment, Reading
  • 1252 Perkiomen Avenue, 1st floor apartment and basement, Reading
  • 232 Exeter Street (garage), Reading
  • 738 Windsor Street, Reading
  • 2909 Wyoming Drive, Sinking Spring
  • 2036 Alsace Road, Building 16, Apt. C, Reading
  • 203 Endlich Avenue, Mt. Penn
  • 2200 block of North 5th Street, one storage unit, Reading
  • 1000 block of Morgantown Road, one storage unit, Reading
    • ** Additionally, bank accounts and several vehicles were included in the searches. 

The following items were seized: 

  • approximately twelve (12) kilos of FUB-AMB (used to manufacture synthetic marijuana K2)
  • three-hundred (330) pounds of Damiana Leaf (used to manufacture synthetic marijuana K2)
  • four (4) one gallon canisters of acetone (used to manufacture synthetic marijuana K2)
  • four (4) handguns with magazine and ammunition
  • approximately $2.4 million dollars in US Currency believed to be the proceeds of sales
  • money counter
  • numerous working cell phones
  • security monitor & camera, night vision binoculars (used for counter surveillance)
  • numerous documents and ID pertaining to the drug suspects
  • drug-related paraphernalia associated with the manufacturing and distribution of synthetic marijuana
  • fourteen (14) vehicles used by the drug organization for the distribution of synthetic marijuana 

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Arrest warrants were issued by Magisterial District Judge Kowalski and served upon the following six suspects:
 

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  •  Eric Cintron, age 36
    • Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute
    • served arrest warrant on 03/30/2017
  • Edwin Mendez, age 34
    • 526 Lancaster Avenue, Reading
    • arrested on March 23, 2017; bail was set at $1 million
    • committed to Berks County Jail
  • Jose Cintron, age 38
    • 203 Endlich Avenue, Mt. Penn
    • arrested on March 23, 2017; bail was set at $1 million
    • committed to Berks County Jail
  • Miguel Gomez, age 56
    • 1252 Perkiomen Avenue, 1st floor apt., Reading
    • arrested on March 23, 2017; bail was set at $1 million
    • committed to Berks County Jail
  • Joel Solis, age 34
    • 319 Hollenbach Street, Reading
    • arrested on March 23, 2017; bail was set at $1 million
    • committed to Berks County
  • Destiny Plaza, age 38
    • 526 Lancaster Avenue, Reading
    • arrested on March 25, 2017; bail was set at $250,000
    • she remains free on bail  

"Synthetic drugs like K2 post a significant health risk to those who use and abuse them. The arrests and drug seizures that resulted from this collaborative investigation deal a serious blow to a large scale drug trafficking ring that pumped dangerous synthetic narcotics into our communities."  

Said William Walker, Acting Deputy Special Agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. 

"HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at the Berks County District Attorney's Office and Reading Police Department to purge the streets of dangerous criminals who import and distribute narcotics in our communities."