Local, state and federal law enforcement conducted a massive heroin bust in Connecticut on Friday, resulting in 51 arrests and the seizure of guns, $15,000 in cash and thousands of bags of heroin packaged for sale.
Police in Waterbury said the arrests stem from a sweeping investigation that began last September “in response to an increase in heroin overdoses and heroin-related deaths” in the city.
Those arrested are mid-level narcotics dealers involved mostly in the sale of heroin, Waterbury police said. They added that the monthslong operation, named “Operation Raw Deal,” included “aggressively conducting investigations into all identified heroin traffickers.”
A total of 51 people have been arrested since Friday, and authorities are still looking for 10 additional suspects, Waterbury Police spokesman David Silverio told CNN.
Thirteen arrest teams launched a series of raids across Waterbury just after dawn Friday. Charges tied to the arrest warrants include sale of narcotics, possession in school zone, conspiracy at sale of narcotics, and firearms violations, according to police.
During the raids, officers seized several guns, more than $15,000 in cash, two cars, “several thousand” bags of sale-ready heroin and half a pound of raw heroin, police said.
“The objective of this extensive investigation was to suppress the trafficking of heroin in Waterbury,” the city’s police said in a news release.
“As of May 4th, there have been 24 deaths in Waterbury—this year alone—and 99 overdoses,” Silverio told CNN affiliate WTIC. “We have a problem right here in the city.”
Some 135 detectives, officers, agents and investigators from a variety of Waterbury police units were involved in the arrests, as well as personnel from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Connecticut State Police, the federal Drug Enforcement Agncy and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Waterbury police said the heroin probe “remains an open and active investigation.”
Harlem Drug Bust: 77 Pounds of Suspected Fentanyl Labeled With Pablo Escobar
In a similar story, on March 28, over 77 pounds of suspected heroin or fentanyl were seized in Harlem, New York City. Ariel Hernandez faces drug charges and Luisuidyn Garcia Mena has been charged with conspiracy in the second degree and false personation.
Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous substance, with only two milligrams necessary to kill an adult. If what was found is indeed fentanyl, the 77-pound seizure is more than enough to kill the entire population of New York City. Fentanyl-related deaths and overdoses are exponentially rising: from 2011 to 2016, there was a 1,000 percent increase in overdose deaths, according to the CDC (pdf).
“When mixing with heroin, there is no way for the consumer to know just how much fentanyl is laced in the product, which leaves for a deadly game of Russian Roulette,” stated Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Angel M. Melendez in the report.
One of the sealed bricks was labeled with the face of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar—also known as the “King of Cocaine.” In the picture, two packages can be seen bearing the name of “Pablo” and “Escobar,” like corrupted luck charms. Others were labeled with pictures of planes, reading “AVION” (Spanish for plane).
In the home, investigators found $200,000 and estimated the cost of the drugs seized between $10.5 million and $20 million on the black market. The amount seized is close to one-third of the largest fentanyl bust in the country; nearly 254 pounds were seized at the border in January.