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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Participant in Michigan to Western PA Heroin Trafficking Operation Sentenced to 18 Years in Federal Prison

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 18 years (216 months) in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release, on his conviction of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer imposed the sentence on Norman Blackwell, 43.

According to information presented to the court, from November 2015 to January 2016, Blackwell conspired with others to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin.

The indictments from August 2016 were the result of an investigation, which utilized Title III wiretap intercepts and other investigative techniques,  established the existence of a several overlapping and interrelated drug distribution networks with tentacles in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Michigan and the District of the Virgin Islands. The FBI Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force’s focus began in early 2015 on a drug trafficking organization operating on Pittsburgh’s North Side and thereafter they were able to track drug suppliers beyond the borders of own district and across the Caribbean Sea.

This case grew out of a federally administered Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation that resulted in several federal indictments in August of 2016. The OCDETF task force is headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is comprised of members drawn from the FBI Greater Pittsburgh Safe Street Task Force including the Pittsburg Bureau of Police, Wilkinsburg Police Department, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, and the Allegheny County Police Department. Substantial assistance was provided by FBI San Juan, Puerto Rico (St. Thomas Resident Agency, U.S. Virgin Islands) and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Numerous other FBI field offices, including Detroit, Cleveland, New York, and Atlanta, in addition to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, also assisted with this investigation. The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.

Assistant United States Attorneys Amy L. Johnston is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Allegheny County District Attorney Narcotics Enforcement Team – Narcotics, Firearms, & Violent Crime Task Force, as well as the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General – Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Organized Crime Section – Western Regional Office, contributed extensively in the investigation.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated March 14, 2019