Howard County announces seven arrests in opioid crackdown

Howard County police say a crackdown on opioid use and related drug dealing has led to seven attests in three heroin-distribution cases in recent weeks.

Detectives concluded a three-month investigation in mid-May into 31-year-old Robert Ehrhardt, who was allegedly selling heroin and cocaine in the county, police said Friday.

Ehrhardt was dividing his time between addresses in Elkridge and Hanover in Anne Arundel County, police said. Both residences were searched, and police seized more than 100 grams of heroin and 86 grams of crack cocaine.

Ehrhardt, who was released on $40,000 bond, was arrested at the Hanover residence and charged with multiple counts of drug distribution. Nicole Koppleman, 28, who was in the house at the time, was charged with drug possession and released on her own recognizance.

Howard County has reported 18 heroin-related deaths and 73 nonfatal heroin overdoses this year. Last year, there were 29 heroin-related deaths and 131 nonfatal heroin overdoses.

"We are aggressively going after people who are selling opioids, like heroin and prescription pills, on our streets," said Police Chief Gary L. Gardner. "These recent arrests are a positive step in our effort to address this epidemic, but we know we can't enforce our way out of the problem. That's why we are collaborating with other agencies to approach this from all sides, including prevention, education, treatment and recovery."

In April, detectives arrested Roger Lee Burks, 28, of Eutaw Place in Baltimore and Brandon Dews, 32, of North Avenue in Baltimore for distributing heroin in Howard County.

Burks was indicted by a grand jury on drug-distribution charges. He has been released on $50,000 bond. Dews was indicted on multiple counts of drug distribution and possession and was released on $75,000 bond.

In a separate case in early May, police arrested three people with ties to heroin distribution in Mount Airy. Police received complaints about drug activity at a home in the 17700 block of Frederick Road beginning in the fall. An investigation led to the seizure of suspected heroin and hundreds of vials and other drug paraphernalia at the residence, according to police.

Antonio Eugene Russell, 43, and Jonathan Donyell Russell, 37, both of Frederick Road, were charged with drug possession with the intent to distribute and related charges. Dennis Carl Bonenberger, 27, of Timber Run Court in Monrovia was charged with drug possession and related counts. Jonathan Russell was released on $25,000 bond. Antonio Russell was released on $5,000 bond. Bonenberger was released on $3,500 bond.

Howard police also are working with nearby agencies to curb opioid abuse. Using a grant, the department has created a heroin coordinator position to analyze trends, coordinate efforts with other jurisdictions and assist in the county health department's efforts to provide support for families affected by opioid use.

Residents can report suspected drug activity by calling 410-290-DRUG. Callers can remain anonymous. For treatment, call 410-313-6202 or 800-422-0009.

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