Authorities seize drugs, cash, horse tranquilizers in Kensington bust

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw offered accolades to officers and officials involved in the 5th raid of the Kensington Initiative  at a press conference announcing results Monday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw offered accolades to officers and officials involved in the 5th raid of the Kensington Initiative at a press conference announcing results Monday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

After an eight-month investigation, federal, state and local officials say they’ve busted three drug trafficking organizations based in Kensington and seized nearly half a million dollars.

Law enforcement says it also confiscated 20 illegal weapons, as well as substantial amounts of fentanyl, cocaine and xylazine, a horse tranquilizer.

Authorities named 36 people arrested, and said the targeted organizations were connected to a pair of recent shootings in Philadelphia.

Posters showed the amount of drugs and cash seized at a press conference announcing the results of the 5th Kensington Initiative Operation. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Officials framed the announcement as a step in the city’s effort to stem a rising tide of gun violence and homicides.

“These people are inextricably linked to the violence that we see in our city,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

The investigation, Shapiro said, allowed authorities to stop five potential shootings — including a planned drive-by shooting. Amid a national reckoning on police misconduct, Shapiro argued Monday that “targeted” law enforcement must be part of the overall strategy to improve public safety.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the outcomes of the 5th Kensington Initiative Operation Monday afternoon at Harrowgate Plaza. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“These fine women and men don’t get credit when they stop a shooting,” said Shapiro, a Democrat.

There have been 292 homicides in Philadelphia so far this year, up 33% over last August.

The attorney general also added that violence in Philadelphia and other low-income communities was rooted in racist policies and attitudes.

“So much of this crisis we deal with is the product of generations of choices by people who turned racism into structural inequality,” he said.

This is the fifth raid announced since the launch of Shapiro’s “Kensington Initiative” — and Shapiro described it as the largest operation to date. Although a bust last year resulted in the seizure of more drugs, Monday’s announcement featured more arrests and more confiscated weapons.

Police on the streets in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

In the latest announcement, officials said they confiscated 23,000 doses of fentanyl, 26,000 doses of cocaine and 174 bottles of the horse tranquilizer, which Shapiro said had been pilfered from veterinarians and sold as a recreational drug.

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