February 11, 2009
Attorney General Corbett announces charges against 11 suspected Allegheny and Westmoreland County cocaine dealers
HARRISBURG - Ten mid-level cocaine traffickers, who operated in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, were charged today by the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said the investigation began in October 2006 when agents learned that Clifford Hammonds, 38, Elizabeth, was engaged in cocaine trafficking in and around Allegheny County. The Hammonds investigation allowed agents to identify other mid-level narcotics traffickers.
Evidence and testimony regarding the case was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.
According to the grand jury, 10 individuals were identified as cocaine traffickers in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, as well as Quantel Searcy, an individual who was identified as the head of a narcotics distribution business in and around Butler County.
Over the course of the investigation agents conducted a series of controlled purchases of approximately one kilo of cocaine with an estimated street value of $45,000 and controlled deliveries of approximately three kilograms of cocaine.
Corbett said that individuals that accepted and paid for deliveries of cocaine were immediately arrested and the cocaine recovered. In addition, agents seized approximately $42,000 that was brought to the controlled deliveries to pay for the cocaine.
As the investigation progressed, agents identified Rashika Porter, 32, 2195 First Street, Wyano, as a major distributor of cocaine and marijuana in the area. Porter allegedly had multiple kilograms of cocaine and pounds of marijuana delivered from a source in Arizona for resale in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The grand jury found that Porter solicited an undercover agent to collect a $37,000 drug debt on a 50 pound marijuana delivery that had not been fully paid for and also repeatedly contacted the agent about a cocaine shipment.
Corbett said that Porter allegedly offered to sell the agent kilos of cocaine for $31,000 a piece.
According to the grand jury, Porter utilized a house located at 2195 First Street, Wyano, Westmoreland County to sell cocaine and would often cut the cocaine with creatine in order to make one ounce of cocaine into two ounces for re-sale.
Over the course of the investigation agents seized approximately one kilogram of cocaine, two pounds of marijuana, 35 marijuana plants weighing 123 grams, a Kel-Tec nine millimeter handgun, numerous other firearms and $51,915 in cash.
The defendants will be prosecuted in Westmoreland County by Deputy Attorney General Marnie Sheehan-Balchon of the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation.
Corbett thanked the Clairton Police Department, the Jefferson Hills Police Department, Rostraver Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance with the investigation.
A complete list of the defendants and the charges against them is below:
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(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)