18 charged in Wilkinsburg heroin ring

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Detectives had known about the Wilkinsburg Crew for quite some time when they met with a confidential informant on Oct. 8, 2012, searched him for drugs and cash and then asked him to call a number operated by the violent heroin dealers.

There was no answer. Almost immediately, the informant received a call back. The man on the other line had two bundles -- or 20 stamp bags -- of heroin called Daily Dosage. It was less powerful than the kind the informant had requested, but it could be his for $140.

The informant got into a car, drove down winding McNary Boulevard in Wilkinsburg and parked in an agreed-upon location.

A boy, about 13 years old, walked up to him and passed him 56 bags of heroin. The informant handed the boy cash and the two parted ways.

A short time later, the informant met the boy again and gave him more money to account for the extra bags of heroin he received.

That transaction resembled others outlined in a statewide grand jury presentment supporting charges filed Thursday against 18 people investigators have arrested in association with a group called the Wilkinsburg Crew.

"Wilkinsburg has been a center for heroin distribution for many years," according to the presentment. "What has changed over time is the individuals doing the distribution. The dealers have gotten younger, often in their late teens or early twenties, as have the runners."

They draw customers from Westmoreland County -- where the number of fatal heroin overdoses has risen in recent years -- and other locations in part because the drug is cheaper in Allegheny County than elsewhere. The members of this group, investigators said, preferred marijuana to heroin and were in the trade only to make money.

Several groups sell heroin in Wilkinsburg but the Wilkinsburg Crew is "one of the big ones," Wilkinsburg police Chief Ophelia Coleman said. "I just feel that it's a great thing that we have law enforcement entities that work together to combat this crime."

Investigators have said the group is connected to several shootings and possibly also to homicides but would not go into further detail, saying they did not want to jeopardize future proceedings. The presentment outlines one instance in which two men plotted to rob and kill a third man charged alongside them so they could maintain control over the heroin trade.

"This bust underscores many of the grave consequences associated with heroin and the drug trade," state Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a statement.

This investigation was run primarily by the attorney general's office and the Allegheny County police, whose detectives made several arrests in the fall of 2012 after receiving information that recent shootings might be connected to the heroin trade.

Stringing together information they gathered using court-ordered wire taps, electronic surveillance and confidential informants, they determined that Garnett Long-Parham, 27, of Monroeville, traveled about once a month to Newark, N.J., and obtained an average of 1,500 bricks -- or 75,000 bags -- each time, according to the attorney general's office. Investigators said Mr. Long-Parham sold to several dealers, including Julian Thompson, 20, of Wilkinsburg, who they described as a "central figure" in the Wilkinsburg Crew.

At one point, according to the presentment, investigators listened to a conversation in which they thought Mr. Thompson and another man, later identified as Greg Nash, 33, of Garfield, were making plans to rob and kill Mr. Long-Parham when he returned from one of his trips to New Jersey, but later discovered the target was instead Tyree Young, 22, of Wilmerding, who also sold heroin.

Charged in connection with "Operation Wilkinsburg Crew" are:

• Julian Thompson, 20, of Wilkinsburg, charged with criminal conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization and delivery of heroin.

• Garnett Long-Parham, 27, of Monroeville, charged with criminal conspiracy, participating in a corrupt organization, delivery of heroin and one count of possession with attempt to deliver heroin.

• Gregory Nash, 33, of Garfield, charged with conspiracy

• Jasmine Carter, 23, no known address, charged with delivery and possession of heroin

• Gregory Nash, 33, of Garfield, charged with conspiracy

• James Shanks, 23, of Penn Hills, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, criminal conspiracy, delivery and possession of heroin

• Andre Brown, 21, of Lawrenceville, charged with delivery and possession of heroin

• Vadol Lewis, 20, no address listed, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Kyland Napper, 20, of Wilkinsburg, charged with delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Kyle Wilson, 19, of Wilkinsburg, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, criminal conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Eric Newsome, 21, of Plum, charged with delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Emmett Wilson, 21, of Wilkinsburg, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Jonas Gillespie, 20, of Wilkinsburg, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Dalemar Satchell, 20, of Penn Hills, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Reginald Freeman, 21, of Penn Hills, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Tyree Young, 22, of Wilmerding, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Michael Barr, 25, of Lincoln-Lemington, charged with participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, delivery of heroin and possession of heroin

• Nicholas Beck, 29, of Greensburg, charged with participating in a corrupt organization and criminal conspiracy

• Khiry Thomas, 23,of Wilkinsburg, charged with possessing heroin

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published August 29, 2013 3:15 PM


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