United States Attorney David Hickton announced the indictments of 34 people alleged to be part of Homestead’s “Uptown Crew” for violent offenses and the trafficking of heroin.
This morning, police arrested 29 of those charged in the criminal operation.
The investigation into the group was led by the FBI’s Safe Streets Taskforce beginning last year and implemented surveillance, control purchases, confidential tips and wiretapping to collect information on the gang.
Law enforcement offices including the FBI, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office and Police Department, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the Munhall Police Department and the West Homestead Police Department collaborated in the investigation. The Homestead Police Department was updated but didn’t participate.
Hickton said the combined efforts were working toward a safer Homestead.
“We will not, and we must not let people who, through organized and violent means, selling drugs, armed, threatening people, kidnapping people, define the way we live here in Western Pennsylvania.”
Supervisory Special Agent Michael Christman, who leads the FBI Safe Streets Taskforce, said in the last six years the city’s gangs have gone from dealing primarily crack cocaine to heroin.
He said the majority of the Uptown Crew’s heroin was coming from the Newark, New Jersey area.
“We have New Jersey-based heroin suppliers transporting heroin into the greater Pittsburgh area for distribution by our gangs and criminal enterprises,” Christman said. “We did indict three individuals responsible for the supply and transportation of heroin into our area for supply to the Uptown Crew.”
Christman said Uptown Crew was shipping between half to one kilogram every three weeks with one kilo being worth about $500,000 to $1 million.
He said the gang also used six to 12 juveniles to transport drugs, hold firearms so they’d be readily accessible to gang members and commit acts of retaliation against rivals.
Twenty nine of the 34 indicted were arrested this morning with five still wanted by police.
During the morning’s arrests Detective Jamie Caterino with the Munhall Police Department was “clipped” by a car that attempted to speed off carrying a suspect.
Caterino suffered only minor injuries and suspect Ronnell Robinson, 19, of Duquesne was arrested.