Office of Attorney General’s Strategic Response Team’s 7-Month Haul in Westmoreland County: $600K in Heroin, Fentanyl, Drugs Seized, 89 Arrests, 13 Illegal Firearms

September 27, 2018 | Topic: Opioids

AG Josh Shapiro: “I promised the people of Pennsylvania we’d be smart on crime – our Strategic Response Team is a great example of that approach.”

NEW KENSINGTON — At a press conference today, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and more than a dozen local police and law enforcement leaders announced that his office’s Strategic Response Team seized more than 54 pounds of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs during a seven-month deployment in Westmoreland County. Investigators estimate the total street value of all the drugs seized to be more than $600,000.

Working in close collaboration with county detectives and task force officers from local police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police, Office of Attorney General Agents and local police made 89 arrests in Westmoreland County towns between March and September 11, 2018. During the deployment, they also seized 13 illegal firearms and $113,000 in cash from suspected drug dealers.

“Public health and safety crises like gun violence and the opioid epidemic require smart, strategic, and collaborative action by law enforcement,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Our Strategic Response Team is a great example of that approach. When local police and law enforcement partners ask for our help, these experienced and nimble Teams move swiftly and efficiently to help a community – that’s what happened here in Westmoreland County.”

The Westmoreland County operation wasn’t the first success for the Attorney General’s Strategic Response Team. Last month, Attorney General Shapiro announced the results of a Strategic Response Team deployment in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where agents, working with local law enforcement, seized 44 pounds of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs worth $535,000 over a five-month period.

The agency has Strategic Response Teams ready to deploy in Western, Central and Eastern Pennsylvania. Each team has a supervisor and four agents assigned to it.  In the Westmoreland County operation, a total of nine Attorney General’s staff were ultimately assigned to work in this Strategic Response Team operation.

Attorney General Shapiro was joined at today’s press conference at the New Kensington Police Department by an array of Westmoreland County municipal police chiefs, as well as representatives from county and state law enforcement.

Attorney General Shapiro praised law enforcement collaboration for this successful operation.

“Every local law enforcement partner played a role in this effort to seize large amounts of heroin and fentanyl and get drug dealers off the streets of these communities,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “I want to thank the police departments of Delmont, Vandergrift, Frazier Township, New Kensington, Arnold, Harrison Township, Lower Burrell, Upper Burrell, Tarentum, Jeannette, Monroeville and North Versailles for all their collaboration on this operation. I also want to thank Westmoreland County Detectives and District Attorney John Peck for their assistance.”

“This was a very successful drug seizure that has impacted the City of New Kensington in a positive way. This is a strong example of what collaboration in law enforcement should look like,” said Robert Deringer, New Kensington Police Chief. “The City of New Kensington Police Department looks forward to working with the Office of Attorney General in the future to get control of this opioid epidemic in our city and Pennsylvania.”

“The partnership between the Office of Attorney General and municipal police departments is essential in combating our drug crisis here in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Westmoreland District Attorney John Peck.  “The City of New Kensington and this Office hope to continue this partnership to provide a safe environment for all the citizens of our county.”

# # #