Bellevue busts family drug shop

A mother and her two sons face drug charges after Bellevue Police raided their Dakota Avenue home last Friday and walked away with evidence of a sizeable heroin dealing operation.

Police found 135 stamp bags of suspected heroin, two baggies of the suspected narcotic, as well as empty heroin packages, paraphernalia, cash and 10 cell phones.

Officers became suspicious of the residents of the building after investigating several thefts from vehicles parked on the street, and receiving reports that drugs were being sold there. According to Bellevue Police Chief Matt Sentner, officers staked out the building and observed a number of suspected drug transactions. Vehicles leaving the street after these deals were pulled over, and a number of arrests made for possession of narcotics.

Police identified two of the residents as brothers Jamar and Reshawn Austin, and determined that one was on probation in Allegheny County, while the other was on state parole. At that point, probation and parole officers were brought in to conduct compliance checks on the brothers. Parole officers discovered evidence of drug use and sales, which gave Bellevue Police the facts they needed to obtain a search warrant.

Three people were arrested at the house on Friday: Traylon Austin, 50; her son, Jamar Austin, 25; and Laura Rhodes, 23, of Emsworth. Reshawn Austin was not present at the time, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Rhodes is charged with possession of a controlled substance, while both men have been charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, a felony.

The arrest and drug seizure are being credited to a new drug investigation unit within the Bellevue Police Department, which also works with the District Attorney Narcotics Enforcement Team (DANET). The countywide DANET provides specialized training for municipal police officers and reimburses municipalities for personnel costs associated with narcotics investigations.

According to Sentner, DANET also provides a resource for personnel who are not recognizable as local police officers, giving municipal police departments the ability to conduct crucial undercover investigations.

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