Home News Heroin dealer brags online about escaping officers, gets arrested

Heroin dealer brags online about escaping officers, gets arrested


May 18–A South Florida man facing federal charges he sold heroin linked to a near-fatal overdose in Delray Beach was arrested days after eluding officers and a police dog, being shot at with a stun gun, losing his glasses and then bragging about it on Facebook, authorities said.

Gerald Petion, aka “Gangsta,” 32, with addresses in Delray Beach and Pompano Beach, was arrested on allegations he dealt heroin resulting in serious bodily injury and was a convicted felon who illegally possessed a firearm and ammunition during a drug-trafficking offense.

The investigation began March 14 when a man was found in the 700 block of West Atlantic Avenue “in extreme respiratory distress, his face turning blue,” Delray Beach police said. The man, who was not identified, survived after emergency medical workers gave him Narcan, a prescription drug that blocks the effects of opiates.

The man gave police his supplier’s phone number and nickname “Gangsta,” authorities said. They later determined the dealer’s real name was Petion, they said.

An undercover officer said he arranged to buy three “caps” — the street term for pill capsules containing heroin — for $60 from Petion in Delray Beach on March 31.

“Once the transaction was complete, Petion told [the undercover officer] to ‘be easy on them bags, it’s strong,’ meaning be careful using them because the heroin is strong,” wrote Richard Silva, a Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office gang detective who serves on a task force with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The undercover officer said he bought another $60 worth of heroin from Petion the next day.

On April 15, investigators tried to arrest Petion in the 100 block of Southwest Eighth Avenue but, they said, he sprinted away. One of the officers fired his stun gun at Petion, who kept running.

Petion dropped a firearm before he disappeared, police said. The FN Herstal semi-automatic pistol is called a “cop killer” in street slang and contained 20 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

A police dog later found thick black-framed glasses with “fresh human scent” that looked like the glasses Petion had been wearing, investigators wrote in court records.

Several days later, on April 24, officers spotted Petion walking his dog outside the house where they had tried to arrest him. He ran inside but surrendered after a 20-minute standoff, they said.

Detectives said they found his Facebook profile, under the alias Chris Johnson (Gangsta), and saw several photos of Petion “posing with large amounts of money while he is throwing up gang signs as he is wearing black-framed eyeglasses” similar to the glasses they found.

Petion also posted a status update on April 15, shortly after the chase, that read: “[Expletive] i had to put them on another foot chase. [Expletive] them yahwah people never go down.” “Yahwah” appears to be a reference to Petion’s religion, which he argued in prior court cases should prohibit prison authorities from cutting his hair.

Petion had several prior arrests, including convictions for selling cocaine and prescription painkillers, authorities wrote.

Petion appeared in federal court in West Palm Beach on Tuesday but refused to speak to U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman during the hearing, according to court records. The judge appointed an assistant federal public defender to represent him. He will remain locked up at least until a detention hearing Monday.


By Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel

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