Allegheny County police arrest 29 on drug charges in Pitcairn area
Allegheny County Police arrested 29 Pitcairn-area residents on drug charges in a 10-month undercover investigation that yielded warrants for 51 suspected “low-level dealers,” Superintendent Charles Moffatt said.
The sting began about 6:20 a.m. Friday and extended into the afternoon. One suspect suffered a heart attack during the course of his arrest and was hospitalized, Moffatt said.
Officers recovered one weapon and small quantities of prescription pills, crack cocaine and heroin. Investigators sought warrants for the suspects after observing them sell drugs at least three times each between March 13 and Nov. 15, Moffatt said.
Pitcairn police Chief Scott Farally attributed several local burglaries, thefts and prostitution to the suspects. Drug crime has blown up in small communities, county police Lt. Jeffrey Korczyk said.
“We find (drugs) all the time,” Moffatt said. “It's a fact of life, and we try our best to keep a lid on it.”
Farally credited one of his officers with reaching out to county police for assistance with local drug enforcement.
“They did a great job arresting a large number of bad people, and ideally (drug dealers) will get the idea that Pitcairn won't put up with them,” said Pitcairn Public Safety Committee Chairman John Bova. “But it's mind-boggling that so much of this activity is happening right down the street.”
Pitcairn council plans to add $8,000 to the police budget in 2014 for drug enforcement, Bova said.
“This is not the end of our efforts at all; it's the beginning,” he said.
Bova said drug enforcement in the town of about 3,000 people has become more aggressive in recent months, since council appointed Farally to replace the former chief, who retired.
The department is “more active and effective than they've ever been,” Bova said.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. criticized the county police's drug investigation efforts last month when he requested nearly $500,000 from county council to form a task force to combat drugs and violence in the eastern suburbs. Moffatt defended his department.
Zappala later said he reached an agreement with County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to make a strategic plan to attack crime, and county council this week approved an increase in his budget to $16.2 million.
Megan Harris and Kyle Lawson are staff writers for Trib Total Media.