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May 20, 2021

Main Line man charged with trafficking crystal meth, prosecutors say

John Devivo, 56, of Bala Cynwyd, was arrested after authorities executed a search warrant at his home

Investigations Drug Bust
Meth Bala Cynwyd Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Authorities in Montgomery County have charged John Devivo, 56, of Bala Cynwyd, with felony offenses stemming from drug trafficking allegations.

A Bala Cynwyd man who allegedly was found with $30,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine will face drug trafficking charges in Montgomery County, prosecutors said.

John Devivo, 56, was charged Thursday following a joint investigation among law enforcement agencies that led to a search of his home on Academy Road. Devivo lived there with his elderly parents and other family members, according to prosecutors.

After obtaining a warrant to search the property and Devivo's vehicle, authorities allegedly found three pounds of crystal meth, drug packaging materials, digital scales and $100,000 in cash from suspected drug proceeds.

"This was a significant arrest of a major methamphetamine trafficker, and his arrest will make Montgomery County a safer place," said District Attorney Kevin Steele. "We are seeing an increase in methamphetamine usage in Montgomery County and in overdose deaths caused by methamphetamine and by methamphetamine adulterated with fentanyl. The message is clear: whether it's opioids, heroin, fentanyl or methamphetamine, don't peddle poisons in Montgomery County."

Meth has undergone a resurgence in the United States during the last decade, with overdose deaths involving these drugs increasing among every racial and ethnic group tracked by the National Institutes of Health.

"While much attention is focused on the opioid crisis, a methamphetamine crisis has been quietly, but actively, gaining steam – particularly among American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are disproportionately affected by a number of health conditions," said Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and an author of a recent study on rising meth use. "American Indian and Alaska Native populations experience structural disadvantages but have cultural strengths that can be leveraged to prevent methamphetamine use and improve health outcomes for those living with addiction."

Meth NIDA ChartSource/NIDA
There are currently no FDA-approved medications for treating methamphetamine use disorder or reversing overdoses. Treatment approaches usually combine behavioral therapy and drug combinations, such as naltrexone with bupropion, that have shown therapeutic benefits among those addicted to the stimulant.

The New York Times reported in 2018 that tough federal action to curb meth production in the U.S. during the 2000s has been offset by bulk quantities of the drug entering the country through Mexican cartels. The purity of meth has gone up and the price has dropped with increased availability.

"I have been involved with meth for the last 25 years. A wholesale plummet of price per pound, combined with a huge increase of purity, tells me they have perfected the production or manufacturing of methamphetamine," Steven Bell, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said of the cartels' meth supplies. "They have figured out the chemical reactions to get the best bang for their bucks."

In Philadelphia, the health department reported a steep rise in fatal overdoses involving meth and PCP, the hallucinogen commonly known as angel dust, especially when mixed with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. Deaths in the city involving these drug combinations have surged during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Investigators did not say whether the crystal meth allegedly found at Devivo's residence had been combined with fentanyl.

Devivo is charged with felony possession with intent to deliver drugs, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He did not immediately post bail and remains held at Montgomery County Correctional Facility ahead of a May 28 preliminary hearing.