State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Take Down Major Allentown
DEC 7 -- (PHILADELPHIA) – Special Agent-in-Charge James M. Kasson announced today that federal, state, and local enforcement agencies have shut down “Mafia-El Don,” believed to be the Lehigh Valley’s largest cocaine trafficking organization. Nine alleged members of the gang have been arrested and charged this week. The takedown follows an eighteen-month investigation by DEA and FBI and was supported by the Allentown Police Department, ATF, the Bethlehem Police Department the DA's Offices of Lehigh and Northampton Counties, the Easton Police Department, the Northampton County Drug Task Force, the Palmer Township Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Reading Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Whitehall Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Gallagher.
This is the first gang case prosecuted in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as part of the “222 Corridor” anti-gang initiative, a federally funded program designed to defeat some of the most violent and pervasive gangs in the country. The “222 Corridor” – which includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and York – was one of six target areas chosen to receive funding. Those charged were members of a violent organization that was responsible for a major portion of the cocaine trafficking in the Lehigh Valley.” The “Mafia-El Don” organization has distributed at least 50 kilograms of cocaine in the Lehigh Valley area since the summer of 2006. In Tuesday’s round-up, seven people were arrested for direct roles in the conspiracy, two others were arrested for buying kilogram-quantities of cocaine from the organization with the intent of reselling that cocaine.
“Cocaine has wreaked havoc against the citizens of the Lehigh Valley far too long,” said DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James Kasson. “The arrests of the members of this drug trafficking organization have brought their devastating impact against our communities to an end. The joint law enforcement efforts demonstrated throughout this investigation have clearly disrupted and dismantled this organization.”
The investigation included a five-month wiretap in which hundreds of calls were intercepted involving the procurement and selling of cocaine in quantities from 14 grams up to kilograms. The cocaine was sold primarily from a bodega in Allentown and a restaurant in Easton. During the execution of search warrants in Lehigh and Northampton Counties, the agents recovered cocaine, three firearms, and an estimated $1 million in cash. More than a kilo of cocaine was recovered during the course of the investigation.
During the investigation, agents twice thwarted plans for the commission of violent crimes. On one occasion, the agents intercepted calls between the conspirators arranging for an AK-47 assault rifle to be brought to the Easton restaurant to settle a dispute. To disrupt the plot, the agents and other officers then visited the restaurant under the guise of making community routine notifications to residents and businesses in the area. On another occasion, the agents intercepted calls between the conspirators in which they planned for and hired another individual to commit a home invasion robbery. To thwart that attack, the agents and other officers staked out the home of the hired gun and intercepted him in route to his intended victim while in possession of a stolen handgun, brass knuckles, and cocaine.