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Press Release

Rankin Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Conspiring to Distribute Cocaine

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

PITTSBURGH, PA - A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been sentenced in federal court on convictions of narcotics trafficking, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Senior United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab imposed the sentence of five years of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, on Marcell Sewell, 60, of Rankin, PA.

According to information presented to the Court, the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force conducted a long-term investigation of drug trafficking occurring in and around the Braddock section of Pittsburgh. Law enforcement identified several individuals who were illegally distributing controlled substances in the Greater Pittsburgh Region, as members of a neighborhood-based street gang, self-titled "SCO" and whose leader was identified as Howard McFadden.

In January of 2019, investigators obtained authorization to conduct a federal wiretap investigation, which continued through May of 2019. As a result of this investigation, Sewell, along with 32 others were indicted in June of 2019 by a federal grand jury in three separate, but related, Indictments.

The Court was informed that early in the investigation, Mr. Sewell was identified as an associate of SCO and, in particular an associate of Howard McFadden. Investigators observed Mr. Sewell meeting with Howard McFadden at a stash house location on Seddon Avenue, via pole camera footage. Once law enforcement began intercepting communications, in January of 2019, the government confirmed that these meetings pertained to drug trafficking. Mr. Sewell was intercepted communicating with Howard McFadden, discussing their drug customers and drug-trafficking businesses. Mr. Sewell regularly met with Howard McFadden at various locations, in and around Braddock, to obtain cocaine and cocaine base from Howard McFadden and/or to pay him. Mr. Sewell admitted to conspiring to distribute 182 grams of cocaine and 114 grams of cocaine base.

Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Brady commended the multi-agency team, which was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Sewell.

Partners in this investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Allegheny County Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Narcotics, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Other assisting agencies included the Monroeville Police Department, Penn Hills Police Department, Wilkinsburg Police Department, and Allegheny County Adult Probation.

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 January 7, 2021

Drug Trafficking