Details: First Known Seizure of Carfentanyl in Allegheny County

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday charges against six drug dealers who sold $750,000 of carfentanyl, fentanyl and heroin in Allegheny County towns over the past year.

The case resulted in the first known seizure of carfentanyl by the Office of Attorney General in Allegheny County, according to a statewide investigating grand jury that recommended the charges. Carfentanyl is used as a tranquilizer for large animals, and is 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

The breakup of this drug ring is the result of a joint investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Allegheny County Police Department, which included the effective use of the grand jury.

“These dealers sold carfentanyl – a potent, deadly drug that is literally used to tranquilize elephants,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “It is outrageous criminal conduct, we won’t allow it, and with strong law enforcement collaboration, we’ve shut down a drug ring that sold three-quarters of a million dollars of poison in towns across Allegheny County.”

Deondray Beasley, 29, of 16th Avenue, Homestead, was identified by the grand jury and investigators as “the Boss” of the drug ring. Using a group of conspirator dealers, Beasley bought and sold carfentanyl, fentanyl and heroin in Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County towns of Munhall, Braddock Heights, North Braddock and Braddock between September 2016 and August 2017.

The joint investigation of the Beasley-led drug ring began in September 2016, when detectives observed a drug transaction occur between Beasley, a known associate and a drug buyer. When investigators did a car stop following that drug deal, they discovered 23 bags of carfentanyl and 27 bags of heroin mixed with fentanyl in the buyer’s possession.

Collaborating with the Allegheny County Police Narcotics, Vice and Intelligence Unit, Attorney General’s investigators conducted more surveillance of the drug ring, and made controlled drug buys from Beasley and two conspirators – Derek Williams, 22, of West Virginia Avenue, Munhall, and Dorrean Watson, 30, of Beaver Avenue, Pittsburgh. Investigators bought drugs later determined to be carfentanyl, fentanyl and heroin.

As the ring continued operating, Beasley turned over some of the daily management of the enterprise to another dealer, James Wells, 29, of Ridge Avenue, North Braddock. Investigators continued making controlled drug buys from Wells and others, including Patrick Sanders, 27, of Hillview Street, Duquesne, and Rand Wolford, 29, of Talbot Avenue, Braddock.

In May of this year, a Pittsburgh police officer conducted a car stop on a vehicle after gunshots were detected in the area. Four people were in the car at the time, including Wells. Investigators recovered three handguns from the car, one loaded with armor-piercing bullets, as well as additional ammunition and magazines. Two of the guns seized were accessible by Wells, who lacked a valid permit to carry a firearm.

In September, investigators searched three locations in Pittsburgh, Munhall and Homestead that were occupied or frequented by Beasley and Watson. Investigators seized cell phones, drug packaging and processing materials, a blender attachment with drug residue and a loaded Glock handgun.

On Oct. 5, Wells was arrested on an outstanding warrant. At the time of his arrest, Wells was in possession of 150 bags of suspected heroin or fentanyl, a handful of bags of cocaine, and a loaded handgun.

“This was an extremely dangerous drug organization operating in Allegheny County and surrounding areas,” said Lt. Jeffrey Korczyk of the Allegheny County Police Narcotics, Vice and Intelligence Unit. “Some of our undercover agents observed these individuals making threats against police officers, but the most dangerous aspect of this criminal organization is they were knowingly putting lives at risk by selling carfentanyl on our streets. Thanks to law enforcement cooperation, they are now behind bars.”

Sanders and Williams were arrested this morning. Beasley and Watson were previously incarcerated in the Allegheny County Jail. Wells and Wolford remain at large. Felony charges against the six defendants include criminal conspiracy and possession with intent to deliver various drugs. Four of the defendants – Beasley, Wells, Williams and Watson – are also charged with corrupt organizations.

Attorney General Shapiro praised the law enforcement collaboration: “We took down major drug dealers selling poison and carrying guns on the streets of Allegheny County, thanks to a strong partnership between our office and the Allegheny County Police Department. We’ll continue working closely with all our partners including the DEA, the FBI, the Allegheny County DA’s office, and local police departments in Allegheny County. We’ll do whatever it takes to get these dealers out of southwest Pennsylvania.”

Senior Deputy Attorney General Marnie Sheehan-Balchon will prosecute the cases.