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Press Release

Mid-Level Distributor for DS44 Drug Gang Sentenced to 10 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Pittsburgh has been sentenced in federal court to 10 years’ imprisonment and eight years’ supervised release on his conviction of drug trafficking charges related to a large-scale investigation conducted by the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

United States District Judge William S. Stickman, IV, imposed the sentence on Martel Yates, age 30, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

According to information presented to the court, in 2017, the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force initiated an investigation primarily targeting the Darccide/Smash 44, or DS44, neighborhood gang, and its drug-trafficking activity, in and around the South Side area of Pittsburgh. As part of this large-scale narcotics and firearms investigation, in February of 2019, the United States received authorization to intercept the wire communications of several of the suspected members of the organization, which continued through June of 2019. In addition to identifying communications about drug trafficking between Yates, a mid-level distributor within the organization, and many of his coconspirators, agents made numerous seizures of fentanyl, heroin, and other drugs from members of the organization, as well as maintained critical physical surveillance of drug-trafficking activities.

Yates pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl and other Schedule I and II controlled substances. He had at least one prior serious drug felony conviction.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Stickman stated that Yates was responsible for the distribution of significant quantities of opiates and the harm to the community that stems from such distribution. He offered that a 10-year term of imprisonment was appropriate given Yates’s criminal history and his conduct in this case.

Assistant United States Attorneys Carolyn J. Bloch and Brendan J. McKenna prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Allegheny County Adult Probation, Allegheny County Police Department, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Narcotics, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and the Wilkinsburg Police Department. Other assisting agencies include the Green Tree Police Department, New York City Police Department, Mount Oliver Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Yonkers Police Department, United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Updated June 22, 2021

Drug Trafficking