New Castle News

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May 19, 2006

Police bust alleged drug kingpin

Police say they have arrested New Castle’s biggest drug lord, who they believe initiated the Detroit connection in town.

Dion “Puna” Mercer, 37, of 606 Raymond Ave., is in the Allegheny County jail. Federal authorities, in conjunction with New Castle police, arrested Mercer on Tuesday morning at his home for violating federal drug laws. His arrest ends a four-year investigation. Mercer is facing a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute powder and crack cocaine in massive quantities.

The investigation was conducted jointly by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and New Castle police, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh.

If convicted, Mercer could face life in prison, an $8 million fine or both. His preliminary hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Monday in federal court in Pittsburgh.

According to a news release from the office of U.S. District Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, Mercer’s arrest has disrupted a major trafficking organization that has been selling drugs in Lawrence County for several years.

Mercer previously was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced in December of 1997 to a prison term and supervised release. He cooperated with authorities and his sentence was reduced.

Until his arrest Tuesday, he was on federal supervised release in addition to parole for state drug charges.

A criminal complaint filed by a DEA agent alleges that while under supervision Mercer continued selling large quantities of crack and powder cocaine to locals, getting his supplies from Detroit.

“The Mercer family introduced crack to this area,” said a New Castle narcotics officer who asked not to be identified.

Dion’s brother, Roy Mercer, and his mother, Inez Mercer Lindsay, are in federal prison on drug convictions. The complaint alleges nine people have dealt drugs with Mercer since 2002.

New Castle narcotics officers estimated the street value of a kilogram of cocaine at $20,000 to $25,000. An ounce of crack sells for about $1,000.

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