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Press Release

Pittsburgh Man Involved in Supplying Drug Gang Sentenced to Nearly 5 Years in Prison

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

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in federal court to 57 months of imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release on his conviction of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge William S. Stickman, IV imposed sentence on Rico Taylor, 35.

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 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.

Intercepted communications revealed that Mr. Taylor was involved in the distribution of heroin and fentanyl. Specifically, Mr. Taylor served as a source of supply of heroin and fentanyl for Christopher Highsmith, who is among the most culpable co-defendants. As a condition of his guilty plea on April 29, 2020, Mr. Rico accepted responsibility for possessing with the intent to distribute 39 grams of a mixture containing heroin and fentanyl.

Assistant United States Attorneys Carolyn 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 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.


Updated November 9, 2020

Drug Trafficking