Sheriff’s deputy arrested in $2 million marijuana bust

© Robert Galbraith
The 247 pounds of marijuana and $11,000 in cash found during a drug bust didn’t surprise York County, Pennsylvania police so much as one of the suspects did: an armed sheriff’s deputy from Yuba County, California.

"Suffice it to say it was not a routine traffic stop,” York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said at a Penn Township press conference on Monday.

Just before midnight on December 28, Ryan Jay Falsone, 27, Tyler Neil Long, 31, and 37-year-old Christopher M. Heath, an 8-year Yuba County sheriff’s deputy, were arrested near Hanover after trekking some 2,800 miles from Northern California.

"Prior to the stop, we were unaware of the fact that this individual was law enforcement," Kearney said of Heath.

Heath’s badge and .40-caliber Glock service pistol were confiscated during the stop, which Kearney said was planned with the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement and the West Manheim Township police as a drug bust.

"We knew who we were going to stop and why," Kearney said, citing police "intelligence received,” according to WGAL.

Also found during the arrests were three duffle bags and a T-shirt with the words "Triple Cross Pitbulls," which Kearny said was connected to the operation.

The press conference exhibited 250 double-sealed bags of marijuana, holding about a pound of pot each. The street value was estimated to be $2 million.

"This was a very sophisticated operation that was ongoing," Kearney added.

York County documents say that the three men were arrested when they sold someone marijuana. All three face charges of delivery of marijuana, criminal conspiracy to deliver marijuana, and possession with intent to deliver marijuana. No federal charges have been announced yet, though Falsone and Heath have admitted to driving two pickup trucks across state lines to deliver the Schedule I narcotic.

Bail was set at $1 million for each suspect, and Heath bailed out first the day following his arrest. The other two have were reported as meeting bail on Monday. In Pennsylvania, five percent of bail must be posted, meaning $50,000 for each was paid.

Heath, who was on vacation at the time of the drug bust, was put on administrative leave by the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department.

The three men are scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, February 11 in Judge James S. Miner's office in Hanover.