(STL.News) – Scott W. Brady, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, today announced that the number of cases being prosecuted by the district reached another all-time record high in fiscal year 2020.
From October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020, the office filed cases against 757 defendants, an increase of 67% versus FY 2016. The total number of drug defendants prosecuted reached 376, a 122% increase versus FY 2016. The total number of firearms defendants prosecuted was 187, a 78% increase versus FY 2016.
All numbers represent the most defendants prosecuted in any one year in the history of the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Additionally, the cases filed against defendants in the last fiscal year also exceeded FY 2019’s record amounts. The total number of defendants prosecuted last year vs. FY 2019 increased by 14%; the number of drug defendants increased by 22%; and the number of firearms defendants increased by 50%.
“The commitment of the men and women of the US Attorney’s Office to the safety of our region is nothing short of remarkable,” stated U.S. Attorney Brady. “Despite a global pandemic and grand jury being shut down for two months this year, our office has prosecuted a record number of total defendants, drug dealers and violent felons federally.”
Brady continued: “I believe there is a direct, linear and causal relationship between the number of violent felons that our federal prosecutions remove from communities they are terrorizing, and how safe our neighbors are. We have just completed the two most productive years in the history of this office, and as the head of this office, I am proud that western PA families and their loved ones have safer communities in which to live and flourish than they did in 2016.”
U.S. Attorney Brady highlighted seven significant cases involving drug trafficking organizations and the violence associated with these groups, all of which were charged federally and arrested/dismantled during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“OPERATION RENTS DUE” – In May and June 2020, 22 total people were charged with drug conspiracy and firearms violations following an intensive investigation into the narcotics trafficking activities of a neighborhood street gang, known as “11 Hunnit”, operating in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood and beyond.
“OPERATION CRYSTAL HIGHWAY” – In June 2020, an indictment was returned charging 38 residents of Centre, Clearfield, Clinton and Erie Counties with narcotics trafficking, money laundering and unlawful possession of firearms. The organization was bringing kilo quantities of methamphetamine from Atlanta for distribution throughout north central Pennsylvania.
“OPERATION COPPER BEACH” – In June 2020, 19 Pennsylvania residents were indicted for their roles in a Philadelphia-to-Indiana County drug trafficking network that distributed methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine, primarily in Indiana County.
“OPERATION NORTH COUNTRY” – In June 2020, 9 members of a significant Philadelphia-to-Butler drug organization whose pipeline brought fentanyl, heroin and cocaine into Butler communities, including near neighborhood playgrounds and schools, were charged.
“OPERATION BEELINE” – In August 2020, 26 residents of western Pennsylvania were charged following a wiretap investigation into drug trafficking and gun violence by a street gang known as the “Shot Boyz”, who were wreaking havoc in Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh’s East Hills neighborhood.
“OPERATION NO MERCY” – In September 2020, 13 members of a drug trafficking organization based in New Castle, PA were indicted for trafficking significant quantities of cocaine and fentanyl in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. The organization’s source of supply was traced to a cartel in Mexico.