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Drug sweep by Armstrong County Narcotics Enforcement Team

Eighteen people were the target of an early morning drug sweep Friday by the District Attorney’s Armstrong County Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The raids began at 6 a.m. and by noon authorities had 12 individuals in custody with six warrants out on charges including possession, possession with intent to deliver and related charges. Those arrested were taken before District Justice J. Gary DeComo, who set up shop for the morning at the National Guard Armory in Manor Township.

Drugs involved included marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

Control and operation of the Armstrong County Narcotics Enforcement Team, originally operated by the state Attorney General’s Office, was assumed by District Attorney Scott Andreassi’s office in May, 2003. This was the first major drug sweep for that team.

Participating in the raid were officers from the District Attorney’s office, Sheriff Larry Crawford’s office, state police, Kittanning, Ford City, East Franklin Township, Worthington, Freeport, Kiski Township and Parks Township. In all, 10 police departments and agencies were involved.

According to Andreassi, the suspected drug dealers were awakened from their sleep.

“The first team went out the door just after 6 a.m. and we had our first suspect in custody about 7:45 a.m.,” Andreassi said. “There was no resistance. Everything went by the book, safely and quickly. It couldn’t have gone any better.”

The early morning raid is the standard technique used in the past by drug enforcement officers.

“We find they tend to be night owls,” Andreassi said. “When they’re out til 3 or 4 in the morning, at 6 in the morning they’re sleeping. You get them when they’re not entirely with their faculties. It’s the element of surprise.”

The sweep had been planned for about eight months and based on confidential informants and surveillance, Andreassi said. All of the suspects were from Armstrong County and arrests were made in Ford City, Kittanning and Cadogan and just outside the county near Sarver and in Indiana County, Andreassi said.

The drug suspects were street level or mid-level dealers, he said..

“They’re a loosely knit group,” Andreassi said. “They all knew each other, communicated with each other and that’s how we got from one person to another person.”

There was no indication of manufacturing of drugs in the county, according to Andreassi. The drugs were primarily coming from the New Kensington and Pittsburgh corridors, he said.

Andreassi called those arrested and those the subject of arrest warrants Friday, important players in the local drug scene.

“When we assumed control of the Task Force we made a commitment to impact drug activity at the local level,” Andreassi said. “Today’s raids are the first step of many in keeping that commitment.

“The message sent today is clear. Drug dealers will not be tolerated in our communities. Not here, not now, not ever.”


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