Twenty-one people were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday after local, state and federal law enforcement successfully completed investigations into two drug operations based in Maltby Place in Fair Haven.
With the combined efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the New Haven Police Department’s Tactical Narcotics Unit, agents dismantled what Connecticut U.S. Attorney David Fein called “wholesale” and “retail” operations after at least eight months of investigations. As part of this week’s raids, officers seized over 10 kilograms of heroin and at least 10 pounds of marijuana, as well as five guns and $68,000 in cash.
Those efforts represent progress along one fork of the city’s strategy to counter violent crime, City Hall and police officials said, explaining that illegal narcotics trade in the Elm City often parlays into violence.
“[Reducing violent crime] is all about long-term investigations with our state and federal partners like you saw yesterday,” City Hall spokesman Adam Joseph said on Thursday. “You work on busting up drug rings and gangs — it’s about developing longer-term investigations while focusing on the short-term quality of life issues like dealers on street corners.”
Details of the drugs operations out of 28 and 36 Maltby Place were revealed in a press release from Fein’s office and in an affidavit prepared by New Haven DEA Agent Raymond Walczyk.
Using wiretaps, the DEA discovered in early 2011 that Adrian “The Mexican” Pinzon-Gallardo was wholesaling large amounts of heroin to Antoveny Acosta, who resold it out of 28 Maltby Place.
Then, on Sept. 2, DEA agents from Providence, R.I. and New Haven tailed Pinzon-Gallardo’s Jeep using a GPS tracking device to a storage facility in Pawtucket, R.I. There, he conducted what investigators believe was a drug transaction, before leaving in the Jeep. State police stopped the Jeep on Interstate 84 and seized three bricks of heroin and $14,000.
A grand jury indicted both Pinzon-Gallardo and Acosta on Sept. 15, but a Nov. 9 superseding indictment named 15 more offenders.
Meanwhile, agents cracked the drug operation at 36 Maltby Place after several months of wiretaps, undercover buys and surveillance. As part of that investigation, Johnny “Bey Bey” Serrano and 10 others were indicted.
Law enforcement began their sting around 6 a.m. Wednesday, with over 50 agents flooding Maltby Place, according to the New Haven Register. That resulted in 21 arrests; six other people have previously been arrested in relation to the two drug operations.
While NHPD spokesman David Hartman deferred specific comment on the arrests to state and federal officials, he said the arrests were part of the city’s strategy for tackling drug crimes, which often translate into other criminal activity.
“It’s no secret that drug crimes, whichever end of it one finds them on, doesn’t limit you to selling or buying drugs,” he said. “It leads to the perpetration of other crimes that have a disgusting effect on the city and the decent folks that live and work in it.”
There are two levels on which drug crime can be tackled: on a larger scale by lengthly investiations such as those that concluded Wednesday, and at the community level, Hartman said.
The NHPD is actively working to encourage those “fed up with this activity” in the community to work with the department to identify crimes and make arrests, he added.
“There’s never going to be a single drug raid that cures every crime problem — it’s about taking the small steps and doing the work day in and day out,” Joseph said.
The Elm City has seen 30 murders so far this year — the most since 1994.