HARRISBURG (KDKA) – A total of 18 people have been arrested in connection with a drug ring in Wilkinsburg.
According to a press release from Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the arrests were made as part of the “Operation Wilkinsburg Crew” investigation, which was prompted by several shootings and homicides in the area.
“My message to communities that are being terrorized by drug-related violence and crime is that their safety is my priority,” Kane said in the statement. “My office is using every resource available to get criminals off the streets and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
The investigation began in 2012.
“Last year, Wilkinsburg experienced the highest number of homicides in Allegheny County outside the city of Pittsburgh. The majority of homicides and shootings stem from ongoing feuds between crews and their attempts to control the heroin trade in Wilkinsburg,” Kane said.
Evidence and other testimony was presented to a grand jury, which determined that 20-year-old Julian Thompson was the central figure of the group.
Thompson was believed to be a heroin supplier in Churchill, Penn Hills and Monroeville.
Search warrants were obtained for several homes and vehicles in connection with the investigation. As a result, police found an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, four handguns, 270 bricks of heroin, over half a kilogram of powder and crack cocaine and over $95,000 in cash.
The heroin had an estimated street value of $94,500.
“This absolutely puts a dent in it [heroine distribution],” said Kane. “We went for not only the dealers but the suppliers and we are sending a message that we are watching and won’t tolerate this.”
The group also used children as young as 13-years-old to run heroin to buyers and cash to dealers.
Listen to NewsRadio 1020 KDKA’s interview with Attorney General Kathleen Kane: