Kensington drug bust leads to 175 arrests, 27 guns seized

Kensington drug bust
Authorities on Monday, June 26, display guns and drugs confiscated during a three-day raid in Kensington.
Jack Tomczuk

Authorities arrested 175 people and seized 27 guns during a three-day narcotics operation last week in Kensington, law enforcement leaders said Monday.

Officers also confiscated an estimated $1.4 million worth of drugs and about $100,000 in cash, Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore told reporters. Federal, state and local agencies participated in the bust.

Police displayed the firearms – ranging from handguns to shotguns and rifles – and evidence bags with drugs during a news conference at the department’s headquarters.

“This is 27 guns that won’t be used in gun violence in the city of Philadelphia this summer,” Vanore said.

Raids occurred at a variety of locations beginning June 20 in the 24th and 25th police districts, which covers Kensington and surrounding neighborhoods. Nearly 80 arrest and search warrants were conducted, including 10 for violent crimes, Vanore added.

Authorities on Monday, June 26, display guns and drugs confiscated during a three-day raid last week in Kensington.Jack Tomczuk

The focus on Wednesday, June 21, was disrupting the area’s open-air drug markets, according to Vanore.

As part of the effort, officers offered to enroll drug users in police-assisted diversion, a voluntary program that defers criminal charges if the person accepts treatment. Vanore said 27 people entered the program during the operation.

Police also partnered with the city’s mobile wound care unit, established last year in response to the increasing use of xylazine, also known as “tranq.” The animal sedative, which is frequently mixed with fentanyl, is known to create severe, painful wounds.

Xylazine was present in about a third of the 1,276 fatal overdoses that occurred in 2021 in Philadelphia, the most recent year for which data is available. The total represented the highest number of overdose deaths in the city’s history.

In April, Gov. Josh Shapiro visited Kensington to announce that he was designating xylazine as a controlled substance.

Officials did not have information indicating that the drugs seized in last week’s raid contain xylazine; however, they said further testing is being done to identify the substances.

Vanore said investigators do believe they recovered more than 60 pounds of suspected marijuana, 1,200 grams of heroin and 850 grams of fentanyl – the powerful synthetic opioid that has taken over Philadelphia’s drug supply.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks Monday, June 26, about a three-day raid last week in Kensington.Jack Tomczuk

On the third day of the operation, last Thursday, the PPD deployed more than 50 bicycle officers to address quality of life issues and prostitution, Vanore said.

In all, 86 people were arrested for possession of narcotics with intent to deliver and an additional 12 are expected to face the same charge while carrying a firearm, according to Vanore.

Two dozen people were apprehended for alleged prostitution or solicitation, and more than 40 were arrested for drug possession, he added.