Tonawanda News

The City

December 9, 2011

SWAT raid yields drugs

— — A SWAT team was used Friday morning during the search of a City of Tonawanda home on Follette Lane where tenants were suspected of drug dealing.

Police Capt. Lori Rank said a quantity of marijuana and cocaine was located inside the home at 84 Follette Lane, and that a 33-year-old female surrendered without incident.

Era M. Pinelli, 33, was charged with felony fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, criminal use of drug paraphernalia for scales found in the home and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Two school-aged children and a man identified as Pinelli’s husband were not home when about a dozen tactical police officers used a battering ram to enter the home around 9 a.m.

“We waited until (the children) went to school to serve the warrant,” Rank said.

Pinelli was located in the shower and a quantity of cocaine was located in the pocket of a bathrobe. More drugs were found throughout the home.

An illegal switch-blade knife was found in a bedroom.

Rank said the man was a suspect in the case, but was not charged Friday as he wasn’t home.

No shots were fired during or after officers gained entry to the home.

SWAT members were used to serve the warrant following a roughly two month investigation by Det. Joseph Scarpena, during which it was revealed there may have been a gun in the home. No gun was found, however.

Pinelli was held for arraignment later on Friday in city court.

Rank credited Scarpena for good work in identifying drug activity at the home.

“He’s doing a good job of digging it up,” she said of Scarpena, who took over as the department’s primary narcotics detective a little over a year ago.

The family has rented the single-family apartment for nine years, police said. While Pinelli does not work, Rank said the unidentified male companion is employed at a collection agency.

A drug sniffing dog employed by the Amherst Police Department was used to locate the drugs, which police had not yet weighed immediately following the operation.

The SWAT team is composed of members of the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda police departments, after merging in recent years.

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