From Mexico to Los Angeles to a master bedroom in Maryland. We are learning fascinating details about an elaborate heroin ring operating across our region and busted by D.C. police and the FBI in late March.
The insight comes from court documents written by D.C. police detectives and FBI agents part of the Safe Streets/Cross Border Task Force.
The ring leaders met in the parking lot of a Safeway store in Southeast D.C. -- exchanging cash for heroin outside a Wendy's restaurant in Suitland as well.
The year-long investigation was aided by cell phone wiretaps of the alleged heroin ring members. Speaking in code, though not knowing they were being listened to, the street dealer would order heroin from his middle man as if it was fried chicken.
"I'm going by the Safeway to get some chicken for your party. How many pieces do you want?"
"A 20 piece" was the answer.
The FBI says that meant 20 grams of heroin for $2,000. Where was the heroin coming from?
"Out there where them Lakers are at" came the reply from the middle man referring to the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team.
Heroin is apparently making a comeback here in our area.
"It has changed in the sense that heroin, specifically, is no longer an inner city problem," says the FBI's Mike McGarrity. "It's a suburban problem. You have high school kids and younger age adults who might have been addicted to prescription pills. Obviously we've focused on that over the last couple of years and done a pretty good job. The repercussion of that is they're addicted to something and now they're looking for something else and some of them are turning to heroin."
But there was a problem with the distribution of heroin this winter. All that snow we kept getting.
"The MF don't want to put his truck on the road with all this bad weather" the middle man was heard telling another customer.
When the snow did finally stop, the heroin started moving again -- and that is when the feds moved in.
The local supplier exchanged 300 grams of the narcotic for $30,000 in cash. When officers showed up, the middle man took off in his car, hitting a Prince George's County police cruiser.
"I am running. I am running man" the middle man was telling the supplier over the phone as he led police on a brief chase.
Investigators would search an apartment off Southern Avenue, the so-called stash house, where the heroin was processed
And at the alleged supplier's home in Maryland, investigators say they found $930,000 in cash stuffed into a backpack and a shoe box in the master bedroom closet. They also seized two handguns.
"The local (police departments) know the area that we're working in," McGarrity says. "What we bring to the table is the experience of working the entire criminal enterprise and putting a case together for prosecution so when we take them down, we are actually dismantling an organization and creating a vacuum."
The task force broke up another heroin and cocaine ring back in December. Eleven people arrested and several more guns taken off the streets of the District, Maryland and Virginia.
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