PITTSBURGH - An elementary school teacher was one of dozens arrested Wednesday as part of a huge drug ring in western Pennsylvania.
A federal grand jury returned two separate but related indictments charging 39 people in connection with a widespread cocaine drug trafficking network. Two remain at large.
"This cocaine organization is one of the largest in the history of Western Pennsylvania. It spread across the country, from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, with sources to Mexican cartels, and brought hundreds of kilos of cocaine which were distributed through a network,” U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said.
The multi-agency operation, dubbed Heavy Hand, seized $2 million in cocaine.
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Investigators say in recent months they busted an RV carrying cocaine, cash, marijuana and guns from Los Angeles to a home in Verona.
“By taking down a multistate operation, the impact is felt in our region immediately,” Brady said.
The FBI confirmed to Channel 11 that Renee Kinder, of Donora, is an elementary school teacher.
Ringgold district officials confirm she is employed with them. Kinder is no longer allowed on school property, according to the district.
Suspects charged in the indictments include:
- Douglas Cochran, age 39, of Washington
- Anthony Crews, age 44, of Monessen
- John Duchi Jr., age 29, of Donora
- Sean Dungee II, age 32, of Donora
- Brett Fincik, age 43, formerly of Belle Vernon
- Kevin Ford, age 32, of Clairton
- Monty Grinage, age 39, formerly of Pittsburgh
- Kaylin Homa-Lightfoot, age 24, of Verona
- Chace Johnson, age 19, of California
- Malik Lawson, age 22, of Donora
- Deaubre Lightfoot, age 27, formerly of Monessen
- Jamie Lightfoot Jr., age 25, formerly of Verona
- Todd Moses, age 33, of Decatur, Georgia, and originally from Donora
- Thomas Ohler, age 36, of Greensburg
- Eric Pinno, age 53, of Pittsburgh
- Brian Powell, age 39, formerly of Jacksonville, Florida
- Eugene Reddick, age 35, of Clairton
- Troy Rowe, age 28, formerly of Columbia, South Carolina
- Richard Russ, age 57, of Sarasota, Florida
- William Shaw Jr., age 33, of Brownsville
- Herbert Sheppard, age 44, of Monessen
- Roddell Smalls, age 44, of Pittsburgh
- Quentin Vaden, age 35, of Washington
- Jamie Lightfoot, Sr., age 46, currently incarcerated at FCI Loretto
- Brandon Thomas, age 38, formerly of Donora
- Tyler Benefield, age 33, of Vanderbilt
- Regina Davis, age 48, of Donora
- Adam Farabaugh, age 28, of Canonsburg
- Josh Gillingham, age 35, of Fayette City
- Renee Kinder, age 45, of Donora
- Robert Margoni, age 28, of New Eagle
- Tyler Mucci, age 31, of Monongahela
- Jeff Newstrom, age 30, of Masontown
- Ricky Pietroboni, age 40, of Monongahela
- Michael Tirpak, age 35, of Elizabeth
The suspects are accused of committing crimes including drug trafficking, money laundering, financial structuring and firearms crimes. The drugs were being distributed in Donora, Monessen, Washington, Canonsburg and Uniontown, officials said.
"Drugs tear at the inner fabric of our community," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Bob Johnson. "They bring violence to our streets. They waste young lives and wreak havoc on families. That's why the FBI is committed to preventing criminal enterprises from continuing to damage our community."
Investigators say their primary focus remains combating the opioid epidemic, but they say cocaine is making a strong comeback.
“Many of our citizens are now overdosing on a combination of cocaine and fentanyl,” Brady said. “If you are selling drugs in Pennsylvania, we are coming after you."
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