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June 27, 2023

175 people arrested during $1.4 million drug bust in Kensington, police say

Officers seized 1,200 grams of heroin, 850 grams of fentanyl and 27 firearms during a three-day operation last week

Investigations Drugs
Kensington Drug Bust @PPDCommish/Twitter

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, at the podium, says 175 people were arrested during an operation that seized more than $1.4 million worth of illegal drugs in Kensington last week.

Law enforcement officers arrested 175 people and seized 27 guns and more than $1.4 million worth of drugs during a three-day stretch last week during a targeted operation to remove illegal firearms and narcotics from Kensington, police said Monday. 

The FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Homeland Security reportedly assisted in the operation.

Law enforcement officers began serving arrest and search warrants last Tuesday, targeting open air drug markets in parts of Kensington in the 24th and 25th police districts, NBC10 reported. On Wednesday, police also targeted markets in the nearby 26th district. On Thursday, officers on bikes made drug arrests in the area. 

There were 79 warrants served, Deputy Commissioner of Investigations Frank Vanore told reporters on Monday. 

Law enforcement officers seized 60 pounds of marijuana, 1,200 grams of heroin, 850 grams of fentanyl and $100,000 in cash during the drug busts, 6ABC reported

"This was a pretty good amount of evidence recovered. They're guns and drugs we won't see on the street this summer," Vanore said. "We targeted in this initiative; it's no secret, one of our most prolific areas for gun violence and drug trafficking." 

About half of people arrested were charged with drug possession with the intent to deliver, 12 were charged with illegal gun possession and drug-related offenses, and 10 were arrested for alleged involvement in violent crimes, including three for shootings, the Inquirer reported

Some people were offered the opportunity to participate in a diversion program that offers treatment and other services instead of sending them to jail or prison. 

"In order to build thriving neighborhoods, we must hold those who endanger others accountable for their actions," Mayor Jim Kenney said via WHYY. "As the overdose crisis evolves, a strong collaborative response is needed to stem the tide." 

Police said they plan to hold similar operations elsewhere in the city.  

"We're hoping that when we do things like this, it not only opens the doors to our enforcement actions, but it also reminds people that we're still here, even though you don't always see us," Outlaw said, according to the Inquirer. 

Last November, a Kensington drug boss, Ricardo Carrion, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for his leadership role in a drug trafficking organization that distributed thousands of doses of heroin and crack cocaine. 

In 2020, then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced 35 people in three separate drug organizations based in  Kensington were charged with drug dealing and possessing illegal weapons. 

In Philadelphia, 1,276 people died from fatal overdoses in 2021, information from Substance Use Philly shows