Pittsburgh police say neighborhood complaints led to dozens of Carrick drug arrests

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Pittsburgh police on Friday credited residents with helping them arrest 43 people during a 10-month span in which detectives worked to crack down on heroin and other drug use in the city's Carrick neighborhood.

Most of the suspects did not work together -- except for a few who were members of the same loosely organized Darccide gang. One suspect awaits a June trial on unrelated charges that he killed a man at a New Year's Eve party in 2011.

Their arrests weren't recent -- they occurred between April 2012 and February of this year -- but police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the department hoped news of them would remind residents that even the smallest of complaints can help trigger an arrest.

"With the rise in ... overdoses and so many drugs being out there at this point and especially what we're hearing nowadays about the heroin epidemic and all that, we want to make sure the communities know we're out there trying to get drug dealers off of the streets," Ms. Richard said. She said the arrests described on Friday were possible "because we had citizen complaints."

Police said they are searching for 11 other people but declined to release their names before an arrest.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who represents Carrick, said officers focused primarily on the 2600 block of Brownsville Road and on nearby Kirk and Spencer avenues.

During the arrests, officers seized more than $70,000 worth of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills. Detectives suspect some of the drugs came to the area from New York and New Jersey.

Most of the people arrested were low-level dealers, and few seemed to be related to each other, which helped officers.

"We caught them so far off guard they were overwhelmed," narcotics Lt. Robert Roth said.

Donna Williams, 60, who lives on Kirk Avenue and helps coordinate the neighborhood block watch, said she was ecstatic to hear about the arrests. She said some of her neighbors had been staying indoors because they feared for their safety due to the drug activity and that she had received threats from some people who she believes were selling drugs in the area.

Told of the arrest, Ms. Williams said, "I'm floating on air."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published April 5, 2013 4:15 AM


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