The New Haven Police Department saw a successful end to the month of February — the city’s first murder-free month since August.
After two homicides hit New Haven in late January, the number of violent crimes is down citywide by almost 50 percent compared to this time last year, according to data from the NHPD. Meanwhile, the city’s Police Department wrapped up this month with a number of narcotics raids that have led to nine arrests in the past two weeks.
This series of drug raids has involved the participation of several law enforcement agencies, said Sgt. Alfonso Vazquez, an officer in charge of the NHPD’s Investigative Services Bureau, adding that this kind of cooperative approach has been fundamental in keeping violent crime down this month. In February, the city registered a total of eight nonfatal shootings, almost a 50 percent reduction from the 15 nonfatal shootings reported in February 2012.
“It has been a good month, but we hope to do better next month,” Vazquez said, adding that the Police Department’s focus lies in containing the frequency of shootings and robberies.
The most recent of February’s drug busts was conducted on the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 26. At around 5:30 p.m., officer David Acosta — a member of the Police Department currently assigned to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force — raided an apartment at 75 Daggett St. in search of a fugitive wanted by the Drug Enforcement Agency. A subsequent search of the premises led Acosta, federal agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and agents from the DEA to discover 80 grams of cocaine, 174 grams of marijuana, 807 grams of bath salts and over $2,000 in cash, according to a statement released by the Police Department. Federal agents and New Haven police officers also discovered three firearms, one sawed-off shotgun, one 9 mm Ruger, one .22-caliber handgun with obliterated serial numbers, a bulletproof vest and several boxes of ammunition.
In another apartment within the same 75 Daggett St. complex, police found sophisticated marijuana-growing equipment, including 108 marijuana plants, lighting, packaging and scales.
The two apartments’ residents — 36-year-old Brian Farrell and 38-year-old Jerry Britt — were arrested and charged with multiple gun and drug violations, said Vazquez.
According to Vazquez, investigations on Tuesday’s raid are still ongoing. This week’s bust was the last of a series of successful drug arrests this month, including the Feb. 16 arrest of Luis Martinez, a 30-year old New Haven resident who was transporting 126 bags of heroin, 36 bags of crack cocaine and $1,304 in cash in his white Chrysler 300.
Meanwhile, the NHPD has concluded its investigation into the Jan. 22 homicide that killed Abdul L. Rawas, 55, who was fatally shot in the back and arm inside his convenience store at 738 Orchard St. As NHPD spokesman David Hartman suggested last month, the murder originated from a robbery attempt gone awry. Examination of the surveillance footage from two cameras at the market led investigators to Milton Daniels Jr., a 20-year-old New Haven resident who was arrested on Feb. 15 and charged with felony murder and murder. Daniels is currently being held on a $2 million bond, police said.
“I want to acknowledge the remarkable Detectives who pursued this case relentlessly to bring justice to a grieving family,” NHPD Chief Dean Esserman said in a Feb 15. statement following the arrest.
The second investigation into the Jan. 23 homicide of Lonni Star, 29, concluded soon after the incident in January when the NHPD arrested two minors connected to the crime.
In 2012, the number of homicides in New Haven reached a three-year low, with a total of 17 murders reported.