Updated: 2:23 p.m. Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Posted: 10:47 a.m. Thursday, March 14, 2013

US Attorney's office, FBI bust $500k to $1 million heroin operation in Pittsburgh

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drug roundup  photo
drug roundup

PITTSBURGH —

The US Attorney's office and FBI officials said they made a "significant takedown" of a heroin trafficking ring in the Pittsburgh area Thursday.

Channel 11 News was there as officials raided a home on West 13th Avenue in Homestead.  ATF agents also were in a home on East 14th Street.

Federal agents said they  have 29 of 34 suspects in custody for their alleged involvement in the "Uptown Crew" -- a violent gang that the FBI charges sold up to $1 million worth of heroin every three weeks in the Pittsburgh suburbs, including Homestead, Munhall and West Mifflin.

Some of the suspects were arrested Thursday and others were already in custody as federal prosecutors unsealed six related indictments charging the defendants with crimes including conspiracy to distribute heroin, using a firearm while drug trafficking, and conspiring to employ minors to distribute heroin.

The FBI says the group brought in up to a kilogram of heroin -- or 2.2 pounds -- from a source in Newark, N.J. every three weeks. A grand jury returned the indictments under seal on March 6.

Investigators said those involved in the operation would routinely use children under 18 to deliver drugs and carry guns for them.  US Attorney David J. Hickton said they asked the juveniles to perform the illegal activity because they would not be charged as harshly as an adult.

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