New Wiretapping Law Brings Down Montgomery County Drug Ring

Filed under: Criminal Law, Drug Crimes by Contributor @ April 10, 2013

Police arrested six individuals allegedly involved in a Montgomery County drug ring, earlier this week. The arrests were the result of “Operation Walled In”, made possible by a new Pennsylvania wiretapping law that took effect in December 2012. Under the new law, police can target a person suspected of engaging in criminal activity, rather than just their communication device. The ringleader, Ryan Gavlick (aka Paul Wall), used 14 cell phones in an attempt to thwart police efforts to track him. What Gavlick did not know, however, was that police secured a court order that authorized a target-specific wiretap on February 28. With this court order, detectives could continue to listen into phone calls and conduct surveillance even when Gavlick switched phones.

Gavlick was arrested in Upper Merion, Montgomery County when detectives learned that he was going to buy five pounds of marijuana from Jason Bishop, of Philadelphia. Police found five pounds of marijuana in Gavlick’s car and arrested Bishop as he fled on foot. Bail for Gavlick and Bishop was set at $1,000,000 and $500,000, respectively.

After the arrest, police executed 15 search warrants across four counties, recovering over 50 pounds of marijuana, $23,248.00 in cash, four vehicles, and two loaded guns. Police used the wiretaps to identify and arrest four other individuals who were identified as members of the organization: Phillip Williams of West Norriton, Jeremy Rotruck of King of Prussia, Woodley J. Baptiste of Philadelphia, and Teaira Thompson of Pottstown.  Thompson, Gavlick’s girlfriend, has been charged with Violations of the Uniform Firearms Act after making straw purchases for Gavlick, who is not allowed to own firearms.

Investigators described their hunt for Gavlick as a “cat-and-mouse” game that has been going on for eight years. Despite being arrested seven times and numerous felonies, Gavlick has spent very little time in prison in the past. Gavlick has been charged with Corrupt Organizations, Possession with the Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal Use of a Telecommunication Facility, Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities, and Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *