Arrests made in fentanyl ring tied to deaths of three young adults
Two died in Lackawaxen, one in Paupack: The sister of three alleged drug dealers is among the dead

Francisco Abreu-Pena of the Bronx was charged with: drug delivery resulting in death, 3 counts, related to the deaths of Kyle Ackerson, Kyle Messinetti, and Erin Phillips; conspiracy drug delivery resulting in death, 1 count; delivery of a controlled substance, 4 counts; conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, 1 count; criminal use of a communication facility, 1 count (Photo provided)

MILFORD — Seven people were arrested in connection to a drug ring in Pike and Wayne counties that investigators say led to the deaths of three young people.
Two of the young adults died in residences in Lackawaxen. The third — the sister of three of the alleged drug dealers under arrest — was found dead in a residence in Paupack Township.
An arrest warrant was issued for an eighth person in the ring.
The arrests were announced Thursday morning by the district attorneys of Pike and Wayne County and the Pennsylvania State Police. They are the culmination of a five-month long investigation into the sales of heroin and fentanyl by the Pennsylvania State Police Vice unit, and county detectives from both Pike and Wayne. Also assisting in the investigation were coroners from both counties, the New York State Police, and the Pike County Sheriff’s Department.
Arrested were:
Jessica Phillips, 30, of Lackawaxen
Carley Liguori, 27, of Blooming Grove
Diane Phillips, 55, of Lackawaxen
Wendy Fuehrer, 53, of Paupack Township
William Phillips III, 28, of Lackawaxen
Lauren Phillips, 34, of Lackawaxen
Charles Warnott, 35, of Honesdale
Remaining at large is Francisco Abreu-Pena, 44, whose last known address is in the Bronx.
Investigators buy fentanyl undercoverThe affidavit included the following details:
Pennsylvania State Police investigators used controlled purchases of fentanyl and heroin, search warrants, electronic surveillance, and witness interviews to build the case against the drug ring. Participants said they believed the fentanyl and heroin came from Mexico, and that they travelled to Indianapolis, Indiana, to pick it up.
The investigation began last August with a series of purchases of fentanyl and heroin from William Phillips III in Lackawaxen and Blooming Grove. During two purchases by an informant, Carley Liguori drove William Phillips III to the meeting place for the sale. One at least one occasion, Liguori brought along her five-year-old son.
Investigators also purchased fentanyl and heroin from Diane Phillips at a residence in Lackawaxen.
In September, William Phillips III was arrested after a search warrant found more than seven grams of heroin and fentanyl in his possession. Jessica Phillips was also arrested in September on a probation violation.
Three deaths by overdoseLater in September, State Police investigators from Blooming Grove and the Pike County Coroner’s Office responded to a drug overdose at a residence in Lackawaxen. There they discovered Kyle Ackerson, 34, of Lackawaxen, dead. An autopsy found that Ackerson had fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol in his system. The Pike County Coroner ruled that Ackerson’s death was the result of mixed substance toxicity.
Investigators' undercover purchase of fentanyl from an individual led to new leads on the source of the fentanyl coming into Wayne and Pike counties. They learned that Francisco Abreu-Pena of the Bronx was bringing in quantities of fentanyl from New York City.
Through further investigation, investigators later linked the drugs used by Ackerson to Abreu-Pena and Wendy Fuehrer.
On Oct. 15, 2018, troopers from the Blooming Grove State Police barracks responded to a residence in Lackawaxen for a possible drug overdose. After they arrived, Kyle Messinetti, 26, was transported to Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale, where he was pronounced dead.
Wayne County Coroner Edward Howell ordered an autopsy that found Messinetti had died from the effects of fentanyl.
On Nov. 7, 2018, Pennsylvania State Police Investigators responded to a report of a possible overdose death at the home of Wendy Fuehrer at 27 Maple St. in Paupack Township, Wayne County. There investigators discovered Erin Phillips, 32 — the sister of Jessica, Lauren, and William Phillips III — dead. Her autopsy, ordered by Howell, found that her death was the result of fentanyl and cocaine.
Investigators learned that Abreu-Pena had been at the residence where Erin Phillips died. He came out of the room where she was later found by investigators; he told a witness she was not breathing, and was likely dead. Abreu-Pena then hurriedly left the residence.
Troopers obtain arrest warrantsIn December investigators purchased suspected fentanyl/heroin from Lauren Phillips in Lackawaxen.
Earlier this month, troopers obtained arrest warrants for Jessica Philips, Lauren Phillips, Diane Phillips, William Phillips III, and Carley Liguori. According to the affidavits, Jessica Phillips told investigators that on Sept. 10, 2018, she asked Charles Warnott to obtain fentanyl/heroin from Abreu-Pena in the Bronx and bring it back to her at a residence in Wayne County. According to Jessica Phillips, Warnott obtained 80 grams of fentanyl/heroin and brought it to her that night. She told investigators that she regularly obtained quantities of fentanyl/heroin from Abreu-Pena to resell in the area.
Lauren Phillips told investigators that, on the day before Kyle Messinetti’s death, she received a message from him asking if she wanted any “Addies,” which Phillips understood to be Adderall. She then met Messinetti and traded some fentanyl for the Adderall. Phillips told investigators that the fentanyl she traded with Messinetti was fentanyl she had received from Abreu-Pena.
"The charges we have filed against this drug ring were only possible because of the dedication of State Police investigators to work tirelessly to put an end to the flow of fentanyl into this area," said
Pike County District Attorney Tonkin. "While all played a part in this investigation, the lead investigators were from the State Police Vice Unit. We are extremely pleased with the State Police provided the resources to thoroughly investigate these crimes that took the life of these three young adults.”
Wayne County District Attorney Robinson said he was "extremely proud of the cooperative effort put into this investigation and the resulting criminal charges. The Pennsylvania State Police and the PSP Vice Unit did an outstanding job, using the latest technology, to identify these Defendants and charge them appropriately. The District Attorney’s Offices in Wayne and Pike County will continue to work together to address these Drug Delivery Resulting in Death cases. The drug dealers have no regard for county boundaries and we in law enforcement will work together to relentlessly pursue these dealers in poison regardless of where they are found.”
The charges faced by each defendant is included with their photos, published with this article.