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March 11, 2023

19 people arrested after police break up two drug trafficking rings in Coatesville

19 illegal guns and about $260,000 in cash were seized by Chester County authorities earlier this year

Crime Drugs
Coatesville Drug Rings Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Police in Chester County dismantled two suspected drug trafficking rings in Coatesville earlier this year, arresting 19 people and seizing 19 illegal guns, drugs and $260,000 as part of a months-long investigation.

Police in Chester County dismantled two drug trafficking operations in Coatesville earlier this year, arresting 19 people and seizing 19 illegal guns, drugs and about $260,000 in cash as part of a months-long investigation, officials said Friday. 

The investigation began last summer after police received numerous complaints from residents about suspected drug activity on the 500 block of East Chestnut Street in Coatesville. Residents reported that they were afraid to leave their homes due to threats of violence and drug purchases on the street, especially those with young children, police said.

Using confidential informants and undercover officers, police conducted 14 purchases of cocaine and crack cocaine from a drug trafficking ring, named "Rokin" after its suspected leader, in several homes on that block from September through December. Last fall, investigators were made aware of a separate drug ring in Coatesville, named "Goonies," and conducted 11 purchases of methamphetamine in Coatesville City and Lancaster County from October through February, police said. 

On Jan. 4, emergency response teams in Chester and Montgomery Counties conducted five simultaneous search warrants on suspected "trap houses" discovered during the investigation. There, they arrested 13 people and seized 10 firearms, two bullet-proof vests and various amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine valued at $25,000, according to police. 

Some suspects allegedly attempted to throw drugs out the window or flush them down the toilet but were later apprehended by police. 

Rahshon Rokins, 48, Walter Loper, 39, Larry Williams, 40, Danquice Shelton, 35, Nakia Clark, 48, Donique Griffy, 27, Sherena Morton, 33, Shawn Duncan, 41, Dianita Thomas, 45, Dwayne Beckett, 48, Ertha Flowers-Renshaw, 69, Dameon Nixon, 29 and Troy Hardy, 40, all of Coatesville, were arrested during the raid. 

All are being held at Chester County Prison except Nixon, who was able to post bail. 

"This was an outstanding collaborative effort by law enforcement in our pursuit to keep the public safe and rid this poison from our communities," said Chester County District Attorney Deborah Ryan. "Not only did they dismantle these dangerous DTOs, police also seized 19 illegal firearms which saves the lives of other potential victims." 

On Feb. 8, Pennsylvania State Police units joined Chester County authorities to conduct 10 additional search warrants of suspected drug traffickers in the Coatesville area, where they arrested six more people. 

Investigators seized 17 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.6 pounds of cocaine, 9.5 pounds of marijuana, 68 grams and heroin and fentanyl, prescription drugs, nine guns and approximately $260,074 in cash, police said. 

Maurice Scott, 30, of East Fallowfield Township, Rodney Gaffney, 31, of Coatesville, Brian Hawkins, 48, of Caln Township and Douglas Gray, 32, of South Coatesville were arrested and are being held at Chester County Prison.

"Drug trafficking operations such as these in Coatesville not only fill communities with dangerous and addictive substances like cocaine and methamphetamine, but are also often at the root of a community's gun violence," said Jeremiah Daley, executive director of the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. "Given the number of firearms seized from both DTOs, along with the volume of controlled substances they are believed to have been distributing, their dismantlement will certainly foster some measure of improvement in the quality of life of Coatesville residents." 

The investigation is ongoing. Those who have any information about these suspected drug trafficking operations are encouraged to contact Chester County Detectives at (610) 344-6866 or Pennsylvania State Police at (610) 486-6280.