Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced Thursday that the full weight of her office is being put behind the efforts of law enforcement organizations in Allegheny County to combat the steep increase in violent, drug related-crime in the area.
Kane also announced the arrest of two men accused of carrying stolen handguns and an alleged heroin dealer as part of ongoing investigations.
"Too many Allegheny County citizens feel helpless because drug deals and shootings have become an almost everyday occurrence," Kane said. "We are focusing our efforts there and together with local law enforcement we are determined to bring peace back to those communities."
She said in recent weeks neighborhoods throughout Allegheny County have seen an increase in drug-related crime, which can turn deadly as drug trafficking organizations try to stake their claim.
"I don't think homicide keeps a calendar or works on an annual basis. When you see spikes and you can start seeing trends, you need to attack it immediately,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.
On Aug. 13, Terrick Smith, 21, and Marquese Underwood, 19, were arrested together after agents and task force officers from the Office of Attorney General recognized Smith as a wanted person.
Both were carrying stolen handguns, Kane said. Smith was in possession of a .40-caliber Beretta pistol and Underwood had a .45-caliber FN pistol.
On July 30, Gerald Johnson, 27, allegedly arranged and delivered heroin to agents from the Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI).
On Aug. 7, Johnson was arrested for a traffic violation, which resulted in the seizure of additional heroin. Approximately 12 bricks of heroin, or 600 bags, and $2,261 in cash have been seized from Johnson, who was driving on a suspended license.
"A lot of this violence is being perpetrated by those in competition with each other for the finances associated with that threat,” said Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar.
Smith and Underwood each are charged with one count of carrying a firearm without a license, one count receiving stolen property and one count of carrying loaded weapons. Smith faces an additional charge of persons not to possess firearms.
Johnson is charged with two counts of possession of heroin, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver heroin, two counts of criminal use of a communications facility, one count of delivery of heroin and several traffic violations.
Smith, Underwood and Johnson will be prosecuted by the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.