Carnegie Towers haven for drugs, official says

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Obtaining illegal drugs in the 10-story Carnegie Towers apartment complex was as easy as selecting something to eat at a mall food court, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said yesterday.

His comments came after police from several jurisdictions Thursday charged 33 people following a raid at the apartment building in Carnegie. During the raid, Mr. Zappala said, officers discovered that they could buy drugs at 22 of the 176 units in the complex at 820 Capitol Drive.

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Carnegie police and the district attorney's Narcotics Enforcement Team still were rounding up drug suspects yesterday.

Carnegie Police Chief Jeff Harbin said the sweep constituted the single largest number of arrests at Carnegie Towers, the most active crime area in the borough.

The raid was the culmination of an investigation that began March 4.

"What is disconcerting to me and to the people of Carnegie is that we had 22 apartments where we could buy drugs," he said, referring to rooms where marijuana, prescription painkillers, Ecstasy, heroin and crack cocaine could be purchased.

He described those arrested as middle- or lower-level drug dealers who constitute a nuisance to the community and to police.

"It's clear to me that this is a destination point for buying drugs," Mr. Zappala said, adding that he planned to meet with the prospective new owner of Carnegie Towers.

Vikas Jain, who owns retail and residential properties in the Pittsburgh area, submitted a $700,300 bid to buy the building in a March 16 foreclosure sale.

Mr. Zappala also said he would press for changing the building's use, possibly to senior citizen housing, if illegal activities can't be curtailed.

Freelance writer Carole Gilbert Brown can be reached in care of .


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