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Police nab 2,500 bags of heroin during Bethlehem traffic stop

In one of the largest drug busts in Bethlehem's history, police found 2,500 bags of heroin in the back of a Delmar man's car after he was stopped on Delaware Avenue.

Bethlehem Police arrested Eric J. Burkart of Pine Street in Delmar and seized approximately 2,500 individually wrapped bags of heroin. He was charged with first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell both felonies.

The heroin was packaged for sale and had a total weight of 26 ounces, according to Lieutenant Thomas Heffernan, and has an estimated street value of $50,000.

The arrest happened at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17, after a Bethlehem detective saw Burkart, 48, driving a 2002 GMC Sport Utility Vehicle on Delaware Avenue with an expired inspection sticker. After further investigation, police discovered he was wanted on an active arrest warrant out of Bethlehem Town Court for endangering the welfare of a child.

The endangering the welfare charge stemmed from an earlier incident when it was discovered that Burkart was using heroin at his home while a 12-year-old child was under his care.

One of detectives was working and checking out area ATMs because of the recent robberies and saw him," Heffernan said. "This is one of the biggest drug arrest in recent memory."

After stopping and questioning Burkart, police found shoeboxes filled with the heroin inside of a "Thank you" bag on the floor of his back seat.

"We don't believe that he was bringing that quantity into town for his own personal use, but we believe there is a dealer he was working for," Heffernan said. "This is something that's not just an impact for the Town of Bethlehem but for the entire Capital District."

As the investigation continues, Bethlehem Police will be working with the DEA, State Police and the Albany Police on the case to investigate where the drugs came from and where they were going.

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