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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 24, 2022

South Side Man Sentenced to Prison for Role in DS44 Gang’s Drug Activity

PITTSBURGH, PA - A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 46 months’ imprisonment followed by a six-year term of supervised release on his conviction of violating federal drug laws, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

United States District Judge William S. Stickman imposed the sentence on Henry Johnson, age 31, formerly of the City’s South Side Flats neighborhood.

According to information presented to the court, the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 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 these large-scale narcotics and firearms investigation, from approximately February 2019 through June 2019, the United States received authorization to intercept communications on nine telephones as part of the investigation, including the phone belonging to lead defendant Christopher Highsmith. During the investigation, the United States intercepted Henry Johnson over the tapped phone line of Christopher Highsmith.

Between March and April 2019, physical surveillance and intercepted communications revealed that Highsmith supplied Johnson with controlled substances for distribution. Additionally, on December 6, 2018, law enforcement responded to reports of drug trafficking at a hotel in West Homestead. Upon arrival, law enforcement observed the defendant throw two bags from his hotel balcony onto the parking lot. The bags contained 17 bricks of a fentanyl and heroin mixture, approximately 12 grams of cocaine base, and approximately six grams of cocaine. Some of the bricks bore the same stamp as other bricks seized in the investigation into the defendant’s co-conspirators. A search of the defendant incident to his arrest resulted in the seizure of $693.00 and a cellular phone. The phone contained texts indicative of drug trafficking.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Stickman stated “The Court cannot highlight enough the impact that the trafficking of these substances has upon our community.”

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan J. McKenna and Carolyn Bloch 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.

United States Attorney Chung commended the agencies for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Johnson.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated March 24, 2022