13 arrested in drug-trafficking ring in Pittsburgh, Beaver County

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Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with a heroin-trafficking operation that ran throughout Pittsburgh and Beaver County and was led, agents said, by a member of a California gang.

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office announced the arrests Wednesday and said they came after a yearlong investigation. Leading the drug operation, the attorney general's office said, was Jose Luis Pena-Montes, 44, who is from Mexico and is thought to be a member of the Surenos gang.

Agents said Mr. Pena-Montes instructed a group of couriers to give heroin to Robert L. Carpenter, 46, who has homes in Coraopolis and Swissvale. They said Mr. Carpenter passed the drugs to a "trusted circle of drug traffickers," including Marquis Farrow, 30, who has two homes on the North Side.

Investigators this past winter obtained court orders authorizing a wire tap on phones used by Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Farrow and said that in January they listened to a conversation in which Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Pena-Montes negotiated a deal worth $300,000.

After searching several locations in February, agents seized more than 4 kilograms of heroin and cocaine and more than $214,000.

The charges announced Wednesday were recommended by a state grand jury. Most of the 13 people arrested were arraigned on drug and/or conspiracy charges Monday.

"This investigation has virtually every element of a major Mexico-to-U.S. drug trafficking ring," said Joe Peters, senior executive deputy attorney general. "It involves individuals with lengthy criminal records, firearms, large sums of cash and a gang member from California trafficking Mexico-produced narcotics in our communities."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.

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