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Police cite Carrick residents' help in drug bust

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 11:46 p.m.

Residents in a hilltop neighborhood called for help in stamping out a rampant drug problem, and Pittsburgh police said they have answered.

City police arrested 43 people for drug crimes in Carrick during a 10-month investigation announced this week. Police seized drugs and cash totaling more than $100,000.

Police credit complaints by residents in the neighborhood, which borders the South Hills suburbs.

“It snowballed from there,” said Lt. Robert Roth. “The community actually called quite a few times to give tips.”

Carrick residents started a block-watch group to reduce crime more than a year ago, said City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, whose district includes the neighborhood. She said many of the complaints came from block-watch members emboldened to take action.

“They are so tired of drug-dealing in their neighborhood, and so am I.” Rudiak said.

More than 20 million people participate in community watch groups nationwide, said Michelle Boykins, a spokeswoman for the National Crime Prevention Council in Alexandria, Va.

The Carrick arrests should boost morale and continue community cooperation with police, Boykins said.

“What it does for the community is show them the value in getting involved in helping law enforcement,” she said. “It shows people that if you do take action and get involved, you can take back your community.”

The drugs seized in Carrick ranged from heroin and crack cocaine to prescription narcotics and synthetic marijuana. Similar investigations are under way in other city neighborhoods, Roth said, but wouldn't elaborate.

Those arrested were from 12 city neighborhoods and 10 other municipalities — mostly South Hills suburbs — and one suspect was from Farmington, Fayette County.

Roth said most of the drug suspects weren't working together.

Rudiak said she would like to see the arrests have a lasting impact.

“Hopefully, there are some dots than can be connected to create a larger case,” she said.

Police said the scattered drug activity made it difficult to identify a main supplier, and they are unsure how the arrests will impact drug-dealing longterm in Carrick.

“One way we can gauge and see if this is successful is by the number of complaints we get in the future,” said assistant police Chief George Trosky.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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