(STL.News) – A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of narcotics trafficking in connection with a large-scale investigation conducted by the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Danasia McNeal, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl before United States District Judge William S. Stickman IV. Ms. McNeal was one of 37 defendants charged in the original Indictment and is one of 22 defendants charged in the Superseding Indictment.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in 2017, the Greater Pittsburgh Safe Streets Task Force, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, initiated an investigation primarily targeting the Darccide/Smash 44, or DS44, neighborhood gang, and drug-trafficking activity in and around the South Side area of Pittsburgh. As part of this large-scale narcotics and firearms investigation, the United States received authorization to conduct a federal wire investigation, which continued through June of 2019. Intercepted communications as well as recorded jail calls and visits revealed that the defendant agreed to run the drug trafficking business of her boyfriend and co-defendant, James Givner, while he was incarcerated at the Allegheny County jail, with help from another co-defendant, Christopher Highsmith, who is among the leaders of the conspiracy. Ms. McNeal ultimately accepted responsibility for the distribution of 65 grams of heroin and fentanyl in the Pittsburgh area as a condition of the plea.
Judge Stickman scheduled sentencing for Dec 15, 2020 at 10:30 am. The law provides for a total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $5,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. Ms. McNeal remains on bond pending the sentencing hearing.
Assistant United States Attorneys Christy C. Wiegand and Brendan McKenna are prosecuting 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.
The investigation was funded by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program (OCDETF). The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.