Western PA drug trafficking organization based in New Castle dismantled

 

Date: September 29, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Pittsburgh – Thirteen members of a drug trafficking organization were indicted by a federal grand jury for trafficking significant quantities of cocaine and fentanyl.

The Indictment, returned on September 22 and unsealed yesterday, charges the following individuals with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, in the Western District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere, from in and around March of 2019, and continuing until in and around September of 2020:

  • Bruce McKnight of Columbus, OH
  • Norberto Castillo-Lopez of Mexico
  • Jossian Ayala-Ruberte of Kissimmee, FL
  • Luis Mattei-Albizu of Columbus, OH
  • Nathaniel McKnight of New Castle, PA
  • Michael Talbert of Farrell, PA
  • Tony McKnight of New Castle, PA
  • Trevor Austin of Sharon, PA
  • Thomas Pierce, Jr., of Farrell, PA
  • Thomas Jones of Farrell, PA
  • Romondo Oatis of Farrell, PA
  • Darnell Latham of New Castle, PA
  • Brandon Jetter of McKeesport, PA

The Indictment also charges Defendants Bruce McKnight and his nephew, Nathaniel McKnight, with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute forty grams or more of fentanyl, in the Western District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere, from in and around March of 2020, and continuing until in and around September of 2020.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than ten years to a maximum of life imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000,000, or both, as to each charged Defendant. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentences imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendants.

Assistant United States Attorney Mark V. Gurzo is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The DEA in Pittsburgh, PA led the multi-agency investigation that included members of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; DEA, Columbus, OH; DEA, Harrisburg, PA; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Pittsburgh, PA; HSI, Orlando, FL; United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, Eastern Area Field Office; Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General; Pennsylvania State Police; Lawrence County Drug Task Force – Special Investigations Unit; and the New Castle Police Department.

This case is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program, known as OCDETF. OCDETF was established in 1982 to support comprehensive investigations and prosecutions of major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. It is the keystone of the drug reduction strategy of the Department of Justice. By combining the resources and expertise of federal agencies and their state and local law enforcement partners, OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the most serious drug trafficking, money laundering, and transnational criminal organizations.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.