The Attorney General’s Office released this poster of those charged in ’Operation Dough Maker.’
The Attorney General's Office released this poster of those charged in 'Operation Dough Maker.' (Submitted)

A York man has been named as the kingpin of an $8 million drug ring, which used deliveries from pizza shops in York and Lancaster counties to distribute cocaine, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

Mario Naranjo, 22, of the 500 block of West Springettsbury Avenue was charged with nine counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of criminal use of a communications facility and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

The investigation, known as "Operation Dough Maker," began in January after agents received information about cocaine trafficking by Naranjo, authorities said. The ring, which operated out of Lititz, Lancaster County, was busted by agents from the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation.

On more than one occasion, Naranjo's juvenile girlfriend arrived at pizza shop locations to make deliveries of cocaine with her 17-month-old daughter, according to the Attorney General's Office.

The drug deliveries were made at various pizza shops in Lancaster and York counties, including Parma Pizza and Grill in the 900 block of Grantley Road, York; Parma Pizza and Grill in the 1700 block of New Holland Pike, Lancaster; and Caruso's Pizza and La Piazza in Lancaster, officials said.

"No community, large or small, is immune from drug abuse and drug trafficking," Attorney General Tom Corbett said Friday in detailing the arrests. "Drug dealers will move anywhere there is a demand for their product."

During the course of the investigation, agents purchased or seized about 1,400 grams of cocaine. A grand jury, which heard evidence and testimony and recommended charges, found that, in July, Naranjo and his girlfriend moved to York, where both began employment at the Parma Pizza and Grill.

Anthony Sottasance, the owner of four Parma Pizza shops including the one in York, said he and fellow employees had no idea of the drug sales. The pizza shops remain open and are conducting business as usual, he said.

"We don't want this to reflect negatively on the good employees we have or on our business," he said.

Naranjo was allegedly paid under the table by the business at both locations because he is residing in the United States illegally, according to the Attorney General's Office.

According to investigators, a series of undercover purchases were conducted in January and February from Naranjo and his brother-in-law, Jose Arroyo-Medina, whose address is unknown, at the Parma Pizza and Grill in Lancaster, where Naranjo was an employee.

These purchases ranged from 28 grams of cocaine to 125 grams of cocaine before undercover agents began making multi-ounce quantity purchases in March from Naranjo and his juvenile girlfriend, officials said.

Agents performed surveillance of Naranjo and his girlfriend before the undercover purchases and determined the source for the cocaine to be Maria Salcedo and Jesus Nepita-Avalos, who lived in Lititz, Corbett said. Salcedo and Nepita-Avalos are known to be foreign nationals from Mexico, residing in the United States illegally, he said.

Agents estimate that, between January and October, Salcedo and Nepita-Avalos distributed about 80 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $8 million from their Lititz home.

Corbett said, on Oct. 8, agents executed a search warrant at Salcedo and Nepita-Avalos' Lititz residence and recovered about 343 grams of cocaine, a digital scale and more than $4,000 cash.

THE CHARGES

Those charged Friday, according to the Attorney General's Office:

--- Mario Naranjo, 22, of the 500 block of West Springettsbury Avenue in York is charged with nine counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of criminal use of a communications facility and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

--- Jose Arroyo-Medina, 28, unknown address, is charged with two counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal use of a communications facility.

--- A juvenile is charged with seven counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of criminal use of a communications facility and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

--- Maria Salcedo, 33, of the first block of Rodney Lane in Lititz is charged with four counts of delivery of cocaine, one count of possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

--- Jesus Nepita-Avalos, 32, of the first block of Rodney Lane in Lititz is charged with two counts of criminal conspiracy, one count of delivery of cocaine and one count of possession with intent to deliver cocaine.

Bail was set at $500,000 each for Naranjo, Salcedo and Nepita-Avalos, according to court records. All three are being held in Lancaster County Prison, according to prison officials.

Arroyo-Medina is a fugitive, and the state Attorney General's Office is looking for him, according to Lauren Bozart, a spokeswoman with the office.