The Annapolis police chief said Tuesday his officers "disrupted if not dismantled" one of the capital city's heroin distribution networks with a series of indictments and arrests.
Working with the Anne Arundel County Police, Maryland State Police and the Calvert County Sheriff's Office, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop announced his officers arrested five of nine people who have been indicted on drug distribution charges. Police also made a handful of "collateral arrests" and expect to announce more arrests in the coming days.
For many months, Annapolis and Anne Arundel police have been focused on stemming the trade of heroin in the area, and they teamed up with Calvert officials after sheriff's deputies there learned their residents were overdosing on heroin purchased in Annapolis.
Tuesday morning's arrests included: Kelly Bowers, 24, of Annapolis; Richard Naylor, 21, of Arnold; Rishard Naylor, 22, of Annapolis; Sadie Phillips, 19, of Annapolis; and Adrian Williams, 27, of Annapolis. They all were charged on multiple counts, including drug possession and drug distribution.
A 17-year-old from Arnold and a 17-year-old from Annapolis were also charged with drug distribution and other charges.
Two others who were not initially targeted by the police also were arrested, including Thomas Penn, 25, of Annapolis on drug possession and trespassing charges and a 16-year-old from Arnold for drug possession. Three homes in Annapolis and Arnold were searched and police seized a 2006 Chrysler 300.
"We're not going to accept the illegal drug trade," Pristoop said during a news conference at police headquarters in Annapolis.
Heroin, long a problem in the Baltimore area, has been a growing concern in suburbs, including Anne Arundel County.
"Annapolis certainly does not own the problem … but we've seen our share of an increase in heroin overdoses," Pristoop said.
Anne Arundel County police have tracked 172 heroin overdoses this year, 22 of them fatal. Their officers began carrying anti-overdose medication Narcan earlier this year.
In Annapolis, officers have seen 28 overdoses within city limits this year, including five in one day in April that may be connected to some of the individuals arrested Tuesday.
Calvert County has had seven fatal overdoses this year, with at least one of the deaths connected to heroin that was bought in Annapolis, said Calvert Sheriff Mike Evans.
"We'll do anything we can, we'll go anywhere we can to stop this coming into Calvert County," Evans said.
Starting last fall, Calvert deputies began working with Annapolis officers to identify groups distributing heroin in the area. Officers and deputies made 50 undercover buys totaling 100 grams of heroin, worth about $10,000, police said.
Information gleaned during the undercover buys helped police identify about 20 dealers in three different groups in Annapolis. Pristoop said one of the groups, "the Naylors," was hit hard with multiple arrests on Tuesday.
"We've had our eyes on this group … We hope to shut that group completely down," he said.
Pristoop said this operation is "just the beginning" of efforts to wipe out heroin distribution in Annapolis.
"It is in no way the end of our efforts," he said.
During the seven-month investigation, Annapolis officers have made about 500 additional drug arrests during the course of routine patrols and investigations, Pristoop said.
In addition to continuing to investigate heroin dealers, Pristoop and Mayor Mike Pantelides said Annapolis police officers will follow in the footsteps of Anne Arundel and carry Narcan. Following training, Annapolis officers will be carrying Narcan in one to two weeks. The police are spending $2,000 to $3,000 to buy the drug.
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