12 federally charged in Kensington drug bust operation

The group was arrested after over a year of investigating and undercover drug buys, authorities say.

Officers in Kensington

A federal grand jury indicted 12 people accused of taking part in a drug trafficking organization in Kensington. Above, officers in the neighborhood. (6abc)

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A federal grand jury has indicted a dozen people accused of taking part in a drug trafficking organization in Philadelphia’s Kensington section.

The group ran its operation out of the city’s Kensington-Fairhill neighborhood since February 2023, according to Jacqueline Romero, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“I hope this takedown underscores the United States Attorney’s Office commitment to tackling the dual and deadly threats of narcotics and firearms,” Romero said. “My message is clear: You’re next.”

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Investigators say Wilfredo Avila and others sold significant quantities of packaged fentanyl, fentanyl pills and cocaine in and around the Fairhill-Kensington area. Ten have been arrested in Pennsylvania, another awaits extradition and one remains at large.

Dozens of guns were also seized in the takedown, including 57 firearms, many of which were personally made firearms, also known as PMFs. Also seized were thousands of rounds of ammunition, a converted machine gun and several augmented pistols, according to Special Agent in Charge Eric DeGree with the U.S. Department of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

DeGree said this is a show of unity in law enforcement.

“It is also another example of our long history of working with our local state and federal law enforcement partners to prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes that plague so many of our communities,” he said.

Philadelphia First Deputy Police Commissioner John Stanford said the joint effort shows people will not be allowed to commit crimes in the city at will.

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“If you’re engaging in this type of activity, please understand that you are next because this is the type of behavior that we can no longer stand for and that we cannot have happening in our city,” Sanford said.

The city is working to clean up the drug-infested Kensington neighborhood, including adding 75 just-graduated police officers to the neighborhood beginning next week.

The goal is to show a major police presence that will hopefully stop the open-air drug dealing that many have fought against in the neighborhood.

This case is still labeled as open, which could result in additional arrests.

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