By Daniel Kelley
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania announced the arrest on Thursday of 44 people with ties to a brazen gang that wore T-shirts boasting of their drug-dealing prowess.
According to prosecutors, the defendants are members or associates of a drug ring called "Bricks R Us" who are known for wearing T-shirts with the slogan "100 bricks at a time." In drug parlance, a brick is a reference of sale common to wholesale dealers, and represents about 50 dime bags ($10 each) of heroin.
"Heroin is a huge problem in Western Pennsylvania," said David Hickton, the U.S. attorney for Pennsylvania's western district, who said the investigation was part of an effort to bring down the "worst of the worst criminals."
The prosecution will disrupt a major heroin pipeline from Newark, New Jersey's largest city, into the Pittsburgh area, he said.
The organization, according to prosecutors, sometimes used minors as drug runners and sold heroin in mall parking lots.
A team of more than 200 state and federal agents made dozens of arrests on Thursday. Another 12 people are believed still at large, while five were in custody at the time of the indictment.
Agents seized more than half a million dollars in cash and numerous weapons, prosecutors said.
(Editing by Edith Honan and Gunna Dickson)