Ten Indicted for Violating Federal Drug and Gun Laws
PITTSBURGH - On June 6, 2017, after a lengthy investigation into drug trafficking in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 10 Allegheny County residents were indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of violating federal narcotics and firearms laws, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
“This case, compelled by the threat of gang activity in the Hill District, illustrates the effective partnership among local, state and federal law enforcement in Western Pennsylvania,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Song. “We are allied in the effort to disrupt drug trafficking organizations, stem the flow of heroin and opioids and reduce violence in our communities. Cooperation with the offices of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala made these charges possible.”
The first indictment, containing six counts, named:
- Angelo Massie, 39, formerly of Penn Hills, PA;
- Raheem Buchanan, 32, formerly of Pittsburgh, PA, currently incarcerated;
- Lamont Butler, 45, formerly of Munhall, PA, currently incarcerated;
- Mark Watson, 43, of Pittsburgh, PA;
- Russell Johnson, 41, of Braddock, PA;
- Thomas Grace, 33, of McKees Rocks, PA;
- Jason Green, 35, of Wilkinsburg, PA; and
- Jermaine Thompson, 31, of Pittsburgh, PA.
According to the indictment, from in and around November 2015, and continuing thereafter to in and around September 2016, the defendants conspired with one another to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Mark Watson is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin. Lamont Butler is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The law provides for maximum total sentences ranging from up to 20 years in prison up to life in prison, as well as mandatory minimum sentences starting at five years in prison. Fines ranging from $250,000 to up to $20,000,000 may be imposed. 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 the defendant.
A second related indictment, containing one count, named:
- Robert Fields, Jr., 23, of Pittsburgh, PA; and
- Norman Blackwell, 42, formerly of Pittsburgh, PA, currently incarcerated.
According to the indictment, from in and around November 2015, and continuing thereafter to in and around January 2016, the defendants conspired with one another to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
The law provides for a mandatory minimum of five years and up to a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $8,000,000 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 the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Amy L. Johnston and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan P. Fodi are 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 led the investigation, which resulted in the June 6, 2017 federal indictments.
These June indictments grew out of a federally administered Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)s 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 Pittsburgh 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.
The indictments from August 2016 were the result of an investigation, which utilized Title III wiretap intercepts and other investigative techniques to establish the existence of 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 the Western District of Pennsylvania and across the Caribbean Sea.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.