A former Penn Hills man pleaded guilty to federal narcotic and firearms charges as leader of an interstate drug-trafficking operation that brought hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the area.
It was one of the largest drug rings to operate in the history of Southwestern Pennsylvania, federal prosecutors said.
Jamie Lightfoot Jr., 27, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
In all, Lightfoot Jr. accepted responsibility for between 50 kg and 150 kg of cocaine.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark R. Hornak scheduled sentencing for Jan. 10, 2020.U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said the organization was spread across the country from Pittsburgh to Atlanta to Los Angeles, with sources to Mexican cartels.
Lightfoot and his brother, Deaubre, 28, were identified as leaders of the organization, which distributed cocaine throughout Allegheny, Washington, Greene, Westmoreland and Fayette counties.
Their father, Jamie Lightfoot Sr., was accused of participating in the ring from federal prison in Loretto, where he is serving time on previous drug-dealing charges.
Lightfoot Jr. coordinated the movement of drugs from out of state to his home, using a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and a large recreational vehicle, according to the indictment.
Once the drugs came into Western Pennsylvania, Lightfoot and his co-conspirators used his house and other locations to break down, repackage and distribute the drugs to other dealers in almost every region of Western Pennsylvania.
A two-year investigation called Operation Heavy Hand, involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state police, and police from South Strabane, Elizabeth Borough, Penn Hills and Perryopolis, led to Lightfoot’s arrest.
In all, 39 – including many from the Mon Valley – were arrested as part of the operation.
On Nov. 5, 2017, the task force executed a search warrant at Lightfoot’s home after the RV arrived there. They found 52 kg of cocaine, 85 pounds of marijuana, illegal steroids, firearms and nearly $1 million in cash.
Lightfoot Jr. pleaded guilty to possessing one of the firearms.
Lightfoot faces a sentence of not less than 15 years in prison and up to a maximum of life in prison and a fine of not more than $10 million.