Heroin/Fentanyl Supplier to DS44 Drug Gang Gets 10-Year Federal Prison Sentence

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PITTSBURGH – A former Pittsburgh resident has been sentenced in federal court to 10 years’ imprisonment and 8 years’ supervised release on his conviction of a drug-trafficking charge related to a large-scale investigation conducted by the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

United States District Judge William S. Stickman, IV imposed the sentence on Jarrell Dawson, age 32, formerly of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Dawson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 40 grams of a mixture containing heroin and fentanyl, and a quantity of cocaine, before United States District Judge William S. Stickman IV. Mr. Dawson is one of 40 defendants charged in the Indictment and Superseding Indictment returned in the case and was proven to be a fentanyl and heroin supplier to Christopher Highsmith and other coconspirators.

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In connection with his guilty plea, the court was advised that in 2017, the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force initiated an investigation primarily targeting the Darccide/Smash 44, or DS44, neighborhood gang, and its drug-trafficking activity, in and around the South Side area of Pittsburgh. As part of this large-scale narcotics and firearms investigation, in February of 2019, the United States received authorization to conduct a federal wire investigation, which continued through June of 2019. In addition to communications about drug trafficking between Dawson and several of his coconspirators, agents made numerous seizures of fentanyl, heroin, and other drugs from members of the organization, as well as maintained critical physical surveillance of Dawson’s drug-trafficking activities.

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Assistant United States Attorneys Carolyn J. Bloch and Brendan J. McKenna prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Allegheny County Adult Probation, Allegheny County Police Department, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Narcotics, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and the Wilkinsburg Police Department. Other assisting agencies include the Green Tree Police Department, New York City Police Department, Mount Oliver Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Yonkers Police Department, United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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