Authorities on Thursday charged a father-and-son duo accused of leading a gang that allegedly rented out corners in Kensington for dealers to sell heroin, fentanyl and other drugs.
Curtis Coates Sr., 47, was apprehended alongside his son, Curtis Coates Jr., and 21 other people during a series of raids Wednesday that also netted 29 guns, including three assault rifles, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
AG Josh Shapiro said Coates Sr., the alleged ringleader, would charge as much as $3,000 a week in exchange for his permission to operate one of a dozen corners, most of which were clustered near Hope Park between Indiana Avenue and Clearfield Street.
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Some of those who were arrested acted as enforcers, making sure dealers paid up, while others peddled the narcotics, authorities said.
Coates Sr. pulled in an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 a week from the protection racket, Shapiro told reporters during a news conference Thursday on the cement basketball courts outside McVeigh Recreation Center.
“These corners aren’t meant for the drug dealers,” he said. “These corners are where our children wait for buses.”
Following a six-month investigation, law enforcement searched more than 40 properties around the city Wednesday, confiscating 2,489 grams of heroin or fentanyl, 47 grams of methamphetamine, 25 ATVs and $179,000 in alleged drug money, the AG’s Office said.
All 23 people arrested — 20 men and three women — were charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, being involved in corrupt organizations, conspiracy and related charges.
Eight of the suspects who are not allowed to own a gun due to prior convictions also face counts related to illegal weapon possession.
No one connected with the sweep was charged with a shooting or other violent offense, though Shapiro indicated the investigation was still ongoing.
“I can tell you it was a violent organization,” he said. “And I’m going to limit my comments to that at this time.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Bail for Coates Sr. was set at 10% of $3 million, and Coates Jr.’s bond is the same percentage of $1 million, according to court records. Their legal representation could not be identified Thursday.
The younger Coates was sentenced to 11-and-a-half to 23 months in prison, along with four years of probation, in 2020 for illegally carrying a gun, according to legal documents.
Another man implicated in the bust, 21-year-old Mansoor Thompson, was released on bail May 27 after being charged with theft. He also has an active drug case.
Moises Rivera, who was also apprehended in the sweep, has four active arrest warrants and was on probation, while Jonathan Morales, another alleged member of Coates’s group, was on supervised release related to a federal case, according to information provided by the AG’s Office.
Shapiro said his team will be prosecuting those arrested and that he intends to pursue harsh penalties.
“I believe there needs to be real accountability when you deal drugs in this community,” he said.
The bust was part of the Kensington Initiative, a law enforcement partnership formed five years ago to target major drug dealers in the neighborhood, long considered the epicenter of the city’s opioid epidemic.
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