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Over 30 drug dealers busted in D.C.

WASHINGTON—Twenty-nine people were arrested today following their indictments on federal charges in connection with an ongoing investigation by the Cross Border Task Force into a network that distributed heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and other drugs in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

A total of 31 locations were searched during today’s law enforcement actions, including 15 in the District of Columbia; 14 in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, Maryland; one in Richmond, Virginia; and one in Fayetteville, Georgia. As of this afternoon, authorities had seized about $100,000 in cash from the various locations, about 15 grams of heroin, about 10 grams of crack cocaine, about a half-pound of marijuana, and 13 firearms, including handguns and rifles.

The arrests and charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr.; Debra Evans Smith, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

Those arrested were among 34 defendants named in indictments returned on November 27, 2012, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The indictments, unsealed today, charge 29 men and five women with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute illegal drugs, as well as related offenses. The indictments also include forfeiture allegations seeking all proceeds derived from the crimes, as well as assets used to commit the offenses.

Three of the 34 defendants already had been in custody, and two others are being sought.

Numerous law enforcement agencies assisted the FBI and MPD in the arrests and searches, including the Prince George’s County, Howard County, and Montgomery County, Maryland Police Departments and the U.S. Park Police. The number of arrests and indictments represents one of the largest enforcement efforts aimed at Washington, D.C. drug rings in recent years.

If convicted, 31 defendants face sentences of up to life in prison, and three defendants face up to 40 years of incarceration.

The indictments allege that the defendants conspired to carry out various facets of the drug operation from at least October 2011 until November 2012.

In the fall of 2011, the Cross Border Task Force, a multi-agency alliance addressing crime occurring in neighboring communities of the District of Columbia and suburban Maryland, began a long-term investigation into drug trafficking in and around areas including Georgia Avenue and Kennedy Street NW.

The investigation uncovered a sprawling drug operation that had several suppliers. The supply and distribution network included re-distribution of kilogram quantities of heroin and crack cocaine along the Georgia Avenue corridor, 17th and Euclid Streets NW, the 1600 block of Fuller Street NW, and several other areas in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

“For all of the progress we have made in eliminating drugs from our community, drug dealers are still committed to poisoning our neighborhoods with narcotics,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “But today’s arrests, following the indictments of nearly three dozen people charged with conspiring to distribute heroin and crack cocaine in Northwest D.C., demonstrate law enforcement’s even greater commitment to disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations. This takedown—stretching from Georgia to Delaware—is one of the largest in recent D.C. history. This sweeping and well-coordinated law enforcement effort should cause drug traffickers to think twice before deciding to sell drugs in our city. We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the law enforcement agencies, led by the FBI and MPD, who worked tirelessly over the last year to make this operation so successful.”

“Drug supply and trafficking organizations like this have rooted their criminal networks within specific neighborhoods, jeopardizing the safety of our entire community,” said Acting Assistant Director in Charge Smith. “Through the Cross Border Task Force, the FBI and our law enforcement partners are dedicated to eliminating these criminal enterprises that pose a threat to our community.”

“With the indictments and this seizure, we have made a major dent in the supply of heroin and cocaine that would have been distributed to Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas,” said Police Chief Lanier. “The Metropolitan Police Department’s Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, FBI, and our law enforcement partners are committed to stopping the influx of drugs in our communities.”

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

The Cross Border Task Force is part of the Safe Streets Initiative, which is funded in part by the Baltimore Washington High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area as well as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The initiative involves more than 150 Safe Streets Task Forces across the country that combat street gangs by combining federal, state and local police resources. The task forces, which began in 1992 in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, address gang activity, including drug-related crimes.

In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Machen, Acting Assistant Director in Charge Smith and Chief Lanier thanked those who pursued the investigations from the Cross Border Task Force and other agencies. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the District of Maryland.

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