(Updated) New Haven DEA agents tracked a Jeep to a storage facility in Rhode Island, where they found eight kilograms of heroin, two kilograms of cocaine, and $35,000—evidence that helped indict over two dozen people swept up in a series of arrests this week.
Local, state, and federal law enforcement officials announced Wednesday afternoon that they had successfully completed investigations of two overlapping drug operations run out of Maltby Place, a one-block street in Fair Haven.
The investigations were carried out by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Haven’s Tactical Narcotics Unit, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), along with state police and cops from several towns in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Agents made 20 arrests in the 48 hours leading up to Wednesday afternoon, while executing several search warrants. Six arrests had previously been made in the cases. Police expect to arrest two other suspects shortly. Five guns were seized, along with cash and drugs.
Connecticut U.S. Attorney David Fein said Wednesday that law enforcement agents had dismantled drug operations out of 28 and 36 Maltby Pl. The first was a “wholesale” operation, the second “retail,” he said.
Here’s how it happened, according to Fein and U.S. Attorney press releases, and an affidavit prepared by New Haven DEA Agent Raymond Walczyk:
28 Maltby Pl.
In early 2011, the DEA began working with state police to investigate a 31-year-old man known as Tony, who was allegedly selling large quantities of heroin out of 28 Maltby Pl. Using wiretaps, they discovered that a 26-year-old Bloomfield man known as “The Mexican” was supplying Tony as well as other dealers around Connecticut.
On Sept. 2, DEA agents from New Haven and Providence, R.I., using a GPS tracking device, followed The Mexican’s Jeep from Connecticut to Providence. The Mexican picked up a 50-year-old man and went to a storage facility in Pawtucket, R.I. They brought a black backpack from the Jeep into a unit, then left.
The previous evening, police had recorded a phone conversation between the two men that went as follows:
The 50-year-old: Hello!
The Mexican: Cousin!
The 50-year-old: What’s up boss?
The Mexican: I’m here putting on this thing again on this shit. I’m going to pick you up really tomorrow.
The 50-year-old: Alright, man. I’m going to be here.
The Mexican: At around seven
The 50-year-old: Alright.
The Mexican: Do me a favor cousin. Call your people from over there ... The other guy you were telling me about. Get in touch with him because they lent this guy the nut already. If not they want everything to be returned by Saturday. But the nuts have to be put there, if not our stuff is going to go away.
The 50-year-old: Alright.
The Mexican: Alright. We’ll talk.
State police later stopped the Jeep on I-84 in Connecticut. They found three bricks of heroin inside and $14,000.
A search of the storage facility found eight kilograms of heroin, including three in a black backpack, two kilograms of cocaine and $35,000. One kilogram of heroin can produce about 50,000 “single-dosage” bags of heroin.
On Sept. 15, a grand jury indicted Tony and The Mexican. On Nov. 9, a superseding indictment named15 more defendants from New Haven, New Britain, Hartford, East Windsor, Enfield and Meriden.
36 Maltby Pl.
In April 2011, the ATF and the DEA, along with the TNU began investigating drug dealing out of 36 Maltby Pl. Using wiretaps, undercover buys, and surveillance, they found that a 23-year-old known as “Bey Bey” was leading an “open air narcotics market where crack cocaine, cocaine, and heroin were sold to customers on a daily basis.”
The organization was allegedly sometimes supplied by a man who operates a barber shop at 1345 State St. Police raided the barbershop on Nov. 4 and seized cocaine and crack.
On Nov. 10, a grand jury returned a 21-count indictment against Bey Bey and 10 others.
Two of those men were arraigned 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in a third-floor courtroom of U.S. District Court in New Haven before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joan Margolis.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Silverman stood in the courtroom to describe a “rampant and blatant drug dealing” out of 36 Maltby Pl.
The first defendant to be arraigned Wednesday was a 22-year-old resident of Maltby Place. He wore an orange shirt and baggy jeans, and bore a large tattoo of two dice on the back of his neck. He entered a pro-forma not guilty plea to six charges related to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and heroin.
The second defendant, age 42, was wearing a black hoody and gray sweatpants hiked up to his knees. He began crying as he entered a pro-forma not guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
Two men were released on $25,000 non-surety bonds, under conditions that they stop selling drugs and have no contact with other defendants.
Seven women, including one who’s pregnant, and two men watched the proceedings from a bench in the back of the small courtroom.
Damares Stimpson, the mother-in-law of the 22-year-old defendant ,said she left work to come to the arraignment Wednesday. She leaned against a wall in the hallway outside the courtroom, wearing scrubs with teddy bears on them. Her daughter sat against the wall by her side, wearing a ring on her left index finger that read “Alex,” the name of the 22-year-old defendant.
Stimpson said she was nervous to see her son-in-law in federal court: “This is the real deal.”
Asked if her son-in-law was dealing drugs, Stimpson said, “I guess so. They picked him up.”