One of Pittsburgh’s most enduring street gangs saw many of its members indicted and arrested Thursday, in the second major North Side takedown in a little more than a year.
The Manchester OGs, short for Original Gangsters, “fund their criminal organization through the distribution of heroin and robberies throughout the Pittsburgh area,” said U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.
Over the years they’ve battled with Crips gangs in other North Side neighborhoods, he said. “This rivalry has spurred many violent crimes.”
The Crips were the subjects of a 26-person indictment last February, and this time it’s the OGs turn, as they face indictments charging 29 people with drug and gun crimes. Of that number, four were at large as of Thursday afternoon.
Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper called the OGs “home-grown terrorists.”
“They terrorized the neighborhoods with gunfire, with the homicides that were committed in the Manchester area and the North Side area,” he said. “There are still remnants out there, but this is a takedown of the most violent OG members.
“North Side will not be the heroin capital of this area any longer.”
Most of those indicted, most of whom were from North Side neighborhoods, face charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin. A few face additional charges.
That address was a “stash house,” according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Karen L. Springmeyer that also named five other sites for which search warrants were sought. It outlined an investigation built on 10 cell phone taps and recorded conversations detailing movement of heroin batches.
According to the FBI affidavit, Pittsburgh police counted 85 shootings, 317 drug arrests, 420 calls for shots fired and 26 firearm arrests in 2009 alone in the territories of the OGs and the Brighton Place set of Crips.
Linda J. Nelson, chairperson of the Manchester Citizens Corp., said the OGs have operated mostly in small pockets of the neighborhood, but have harmed perceptions of the entire community.
Mark Fatla, executive director of the Northside Leadership Conference, said the takedown of the Crips didn’t produce an immediate cessation of hostilities in their former territory. “Sometimes there’s a rush to fill the vacuum,” resulting in turf wars, he said. Now, certain former hotspots are “much calmer,” though there is still work to be done.