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Pittsburgh Cocaine Network Leads to 21 Arrests

Last week, Pennsylvania state authorities announced they used surveillance and wiretaps to dismantle a large cocaine distribution network. The network was based in the Pittsburgh area, but had connections to Atlanta and Texas. Authorities believe the operation brought more than $4 million worth of cocaine into Allegheny County over the last two years.

The state investigation began in January, and agents set up 11 drug deals between February and July with the assistance of informants. The agents then focused on a 26-year-old East McKeesport man described in court documents as a "cocaine trafficker" and a 45-year-old Wilkinsburg man described as "an interstate drug courier and distributor."

After setting up the drug deals, the agents set up wire-taps on the two men's cellular phones to gather more evidence. The agents claim they heard the men discussing cocaine deals, shipments and customers. They also listened in as the men coordinated activities with a 41-year-old Atlanta man, and identified more conspirators in the cocaine organization through these calls.

Agents believe the Atlanta man determined the time and place for the cocaine deliveries to the East McKeesport man, who paid up to $34,500 per kilogram of cocaine. Many times, the Wilkinsburg man allegedly served as a courier for the drug shipments to Pittsburgh and the money shipments back to Atlanta and Texas.

In October, agents arrested the Wilkinsburg man at the downtown Pittsburgh Greyhound bus station upon a return trip from Dallas. They claim when they stopped him, a kilogram of cocaine fell out of his clothes. They then searched his luggage and found another kilogram of cocaine.

When agents searched the East McKeesport home, they said he was in the kitchen cooking cocaine into crack. They seized cocaine, paraphernalia, marijuana, handguns, and more than $7,000. The suspects in this cocaine ring are now facing multiple charges, including drug delivery and possession with intent to deliver.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "21 charged in east suburban drug ring," Sadie Gurman, 12/15/2010

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