Pittsburgh played host to one of the largest cocaine rings in Western Pennsylvania history, according to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, who served 39 indictments related to the case on Wednesday. The organization spread through Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Los Angeles, with the cocaine sourced from Mexico.
"By taking down an entire multi-state organization at once, the impact on our region is immediately felt," Brady said.
Authorities seized $2 million worth of cocaine in November, along with one kilogram of heroin, 85 pounds of marijuana, 11 firearms and over $1 million in cash. Thirty-seven of the 39 defendants have since been arrested and are in custody, including two Pittsburgh-area ringleaders, brothers Jamie and Deaubre Lightfoot, who police say were supplied by Don Juan Mendoza of Georgia
The case signals an uptick in cocaine use in the Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland county region, Brady said, which he said he believes is due to the increased attention on opioids by federal and local authorities.
"We hear anecdotally, and see in our investigations, that people are aware that we are charging federal mandatories [sentences] aggressively and that they will be held accountable," he said. "So [cocaine] is kind of filling that void."
Brady said an increasing amount of drug overdoses are due to a combination of cocaine and fentanyl.