HomeTop Stories12 facing federal charges in Fairhill, Kensington drug bust; One suspect...

12 facing federal charges in Fairhill, Kensington drug bust; One suspect is still on the run, officials in Philadelphia say

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A dozen people now face more than 80 federal charges after authorities say they took down the so-called “Avila Drug Trafficking Organization” in Fairhill and Philadelphia. Kensington Neighborhoods.

“This operation is the culmination of a complex 18-month investigation focused on the deadly combination of gun and firearms trafficking in Philadelphia,” Eric DeGree, the special agent in charge of the ATF’s Philadelphia division, said Thursday.

The group is named after 30-year-old Wilfredo Avila, who authorities say led the organization that sold drugs and weapons in parts of Fairhill and Kensington.

A team led by the ATF and Philadelphia Police had reportedly been investigating the group since February 2023. This culminated last week in raids on 14 locations linked to the DTO. Authorities say agents purchased or seized a total of two kilograms of cocaine and 19,000 packages of fentanyl.

“That amounts to more than 50,000 potentially fatal doses of fentanyl,” said U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero.

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The group was also looked at for its association with firearms trafficking. Throughout the process, leaders say they recovered 57 weapons linked to the organization.

“Privately manufactured firearms, also known as ghost guns, assault rifles, stolen guns, handguns and machine gun conversions, also known as switches,” Romero said.

ATF officials said these weapons will now be processed to see if they are linked to other crimes.

“Oh my God, I’m so happy,” a woman who declined to be identified said of the news. “I’m so happy. Praise the Lord.”

The woman lives down the street from where officials say the group operated and said she has seen a lot of violence in her neighborhood.

‘Yes, I’m afraid to live here! I hate it,” she said. “I hate this life, I hate this area, I want to get out of here so bad.”

But the woman says she and her husband have lived in the area for more than 20 years and moving isn’t really an option for them.

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At Thursday’s press conference, officials praised the collaborative efforts between federal and local agencies that led to the removal.

“That’s the kind of work that needs to continue, that’s the kind of success we need to have in this city,” said John Stanford, the first deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department.

But police leaders said their work isn’t done with the arrest. Stanford said officers will continue to monitor the area.

“A large part of this is also moving forward, as you can see work we do in KensingtonHow can we maintain that area? Because that will be the key to helping us move forward and the transition of that neighborhood completely,” Stanford said.

‘I hope they do more. Because we want these bastards off the streets,” said one neighbor.

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Ahmed Perez, one of 12 people facing federal charges, is still on the run.

Authorities say those charged in connection with the operation are still searching for 28-year-old Ahmed Perez. Angel Velez, 33, is awaiting transfer from another “nearby” state.

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Avila faces the most charges, 48 ​​in total, including 25 counts of manufacture, distribution, delivery, possession of a controlled substance, one count of trafficking in firearms, 16 counts of unlawful shipment, transfer, receipt or possession of a firearm by a criminal and more.

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