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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

New York Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges following Safe Streets Task Force Investigation of South Side Pittsburgh Gang

PITTSBURGH, PA – A former resident of the Bronx borough of New York City pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to drug trafficking in connection with a large-scale investigation conducted by the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Holiday Vaughn, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl, and one count of possession of heroin and fentanyl, before United States District Judge William S. Stickman IV. Mr. Vaughn is one of 36 defendants charged in the Indictment.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that 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 conduct a federal wire investigation, which continued through June of 2019.

The court was further advised that Mr. Vaughn was a supplier of heroin and fentanyl to the drug trafficking organization, and that law enforcement officials intercepted conversations between Vaughn and his co-conspirator, Christopher Highsmith, discussing drug transactions. Additionally, law enforcement recovered 23 grams of fentanyl and heroin during a traffic stop on May 29, 2019, when the defendant was traveling to Pittsburgh from New York. In connection with his guilty plea, Vaughn accepted responsibility for the distributing or possessing with intent to distribute 39 grams of heroin and fentanyl in the Pittsburgh area.

Judge Stickman scheduled sentencing for October 8, 2020 at 10:30 am. The law provides for a total sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of each defendant. Vaughn remains detained pending sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorney Christy C. Wiegand is prosecuting 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 case is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program, known as OCDETF. OCDETF was established in 1982 to support comprehensive investigations and prosecutions of major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. It is the keystone of the drug reduction strategy of the Department of Justice. By combining the resources and expertise of federal agencies and their state and local law enforcement partners, OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the most serious drug trafficking, money laundering, and transnational criminal organizations.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated June 2, 2020