It started to unravel in 2002 when police intercepted a drug shipment from California and arrested ringleader Steven Carnivale, 29, of Bristol, and seven others. Carnivale and his brother, Warren, also of Bristol, who was arrested in 2003, provided information that enabled authorities to dismantle the operation from the top down.
"Usually we work with the distributors and work up the ladder," Pappert said. "Without the Carnivales' participation, it would have been difficult to obtain the information to charge other members of the operation."
Steven Carnivale has pleaded guilty to drug charges in federal court and is awaiting sentencing that could bring a life term. A self-proclaimed former associate of the Philadelphia mafia, Carnivale also surfaced in a Bucks County rape case when he testified against cell mate Roman Lungin, later convicted of raping a teenager and sexually assaulting her with a shot glass and other objects while friends watched and videotaped.
Warren Carnivale's case has not yet been heard in federal court.
Standing beside bricks of marijuana and bags of cocaine, Pappert said that those arrested yesterday were mid-level dealers and that at least seven were cooperating with police.
Much of the state's evidence came from recorded conversations between the alleged dealers. In those conversations, drugs were referred to by code names, so that cocaine became "butter cake" and marijuana, "salad." Pappert said the ring also distributed Percocet, a painkiller, and Xanax, an anxiety reliever.
A statewide grand jury in Harrisburg handed down a presentment in September, which remained sealed until yesterday's charges. The grand jury may recommend more charges if those arrested provide additional names, Pappert said.
Antonio Nieves, 28, of Bristol, allegedly was the biggest dealer in yesterday's roundup, selling about 24 kilograms of cocaine and 1,500 pounds of marijuana between 2000 and 2002. He was being held in Bucks County jail after failing to post $200,000 bail on charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, delivery of a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy, involvement in a corrupt organization, and criminal use of a telephone.
The Attorney General's Office was assisted in the investigation by Bucks County detectives, Bristol Borough and Bristol Township police, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
In addition to Nieves, those arrested on similar charges were: Anthony Centifanti, 30, of Levittown, David Tenaglia, 33, of Croydon, David Frenier, 30, of Levittown, Philip Yedman, 29, of Levittown, Thomas Carmean, 28, of Croydon, James Tryon, 38, of Croydon, and Doug Coyne, 33, of Levittown, who are being held on $100,000 bail. Also charged were Jeremy Romer, 30, of Croydon, Randy Spadaccino, 23, of Levittown, Joseph Seneca, 59, of Levittown, William Manera, 50, of Bristol, and Anita Manera, 44, of Bristol, who were released on unsecured bail of $100,000.
Donna Marie Simmons, 41, of Levittown, is expected to turn herself in to police in the next few days.
Contact staff writer Christine Schiavo at 215-348-0337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.