Alle-Kiski Valley crackdown nets $600K in illegal drugs |
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Wes Venteicher
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the New Kensington Police Department on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Shapiro detailed results of a seven-month investigation that, he said, helped authorities seize more than $600,000 in illegal drugs and more than a dozen illegal firearms.

Local and state authorities seized more than 54 pounds of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs worth over $600,000 during a seven-month crackdown in the Alle-Kiski Valley and surrounding area, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Thursday.

The crackdown, conducted by an Attorney General’s Office task force in collaboration with state and local police, resulted in 89 arrests between March and September, Shapiro said. Authorities also seized 13 illegal firearms and $113,000 in cash from suspected drug dealers in the effort.

“To the people of Westmoreland County who are fed up with these poisons in their neighborhoods, with these drug dealers controlling communities and street corners and other neighborhoods, I want you to know that we hear you and we are taking action,” Shapiro told reporters during a Thursday afternoon news conference at New Kensington City Hall that showcased the drugs, guns and money seized in the operation.

“And at a time when people are so frustrated with government not being able to work together, this is a great example of government coming together and doing the job for the people in their neighborhoods.”

The collaboration between specialized teams from his office and local law enforcement is a new initiative Shapiro said he plans to keep employing around the state to more aggressively track and pin down drug dealers.

“Drug dealers, obviously, don’t operate in silos, and neither should we,” he said.

He said the state Legislature dedicated $400,000 to the effort, which includes teams in the central and northeastern parts of the state as well.

Shapiro called the heroin and opioid epidemic his office’s “top priority.” He said the arrests are part of a strategy that includes targeting doctors that illegally prescribe opioids and drug manufacturers and distributors that he said have some responsibility for launching new addictions.

A record-high 193 people died from overdoses in Westmoreland County in 2017, with a growing percentage dying from fentanyl, according to County Coroner Ken Bacha.

The release said the crackdown involved police from Delmont, Vandergrift, Frazer, New Kensington, Arnold, Harrison, Lower Burrell, Upper Burrell, Tarentum, Jeannette, Monroeville and North Versailles.

“This was a very successful drug seizure that has impacted the City of New Kensington in a positive way,” New Kensington Police Chief Robert Deringer said in a news release. “This is a strong example of what collaboration in law enforcement should look like.”

Wesley Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Wesley at 412-380-5676, [email protected] or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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