Fourteen more indicted in Los Angeles-to-Pittsburgh drug ring
March 5, 2015 11:33 PM
U.S. Justice Department
Agents and police are looking for William Blair, left, and James McCray.
By Torsten Ove / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Federal authorities began hauling 14 suspects into federal court Thursday following a second round of indictments connected to an October case in which 40 people were charged in a Los Angeles-to-Pittsburgh cocaine, crack and heroin ring.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton said 12 of the 14 were in custody, and agents were looking for the other two.
A grand jury last week handed up four superseding indictments and three new ones, all related to the earlier case, bringing the total number of defendants to 54.
The investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force targeted Homewood and was built on informants, controlled buys, cell phone taps, surveillance and intercepted cocaine shipments from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh by way of Cleveland.
Authorities said Thursday, as they did in October, that the case has dismantled interrelated networks of drug dealers who terrorized Homewood and spilled over into other eastern suburbs, especially Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg.
The main players indicted last year are Lionel Cannon of Cleveland, accused of orchestrating drug shipments as the go-between for his Los Angeles supplier, Jason Hunter, and his Pittsburgh connection, Cecil Pinnix, 45, of East Liberty.
Details of the new defendants’ activities were sparse, and authorities refused to discuss their exact roles except to say they were “important cogs” in the rings responsible for distributing drugs here and driving up violence in the East End.
Cameron McClay, the city police chief, said drug dealing is the reason homicides and shootings are on the rise in Pittsburgh while other crimes are dropping.
He and others said that incarcerating dealers is only part of the solution. The other part has to come from community involvement.
“We can’t do it alone,” he said.
Mr. Hickton repeated what he’d said in October that drug gangs cannot be allowed to take over Homewood and other East End communities.
“The law-abiding residents of Homewood deserve to be free from fear of violent activity and drug trafficking,” he said.
The new defendants are: Anthony Donald, 47, of Pittsburgh; Michael Lyons, 39, of Pittsburgh; William Blair, 33, of New Kensington; James McCray, 37, of Pittsburgh; Keith Beck, 22, of Penn Hills; Kelvin Whittle, 56, of Wilkinsburg; John Phillips, 34, of Wilkinsburg; Damien Petty, 52, of Verona; Aaron Atkins, 33, of Penn Hills; Roger Dorsey, 32, of West Mifflin; Paul Wheat, 42, of Pittsburgh; Ronald Broadus, 41, of Penn Hills; Dewayne Allen, 40, of Pittsburgh; and William Lowe, 36, of Pittsburgh.