April 3, 2013

About 100 charged in New England drug raids

The Associated Press

NIANTIC, Conn. — Federal, state and local authorities arrested about 100 people across southern New England on Wednesday, alleging involvement in heroin and cocaine trafficking from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

More than 700 law enforcement officers executed scores of federal and state arrest warrants in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island, officials said. About 52 people were arrested on federal narcotics and money laundering charges, and 51 were arrested on state narcotics and related charges.

Additional defendants were previously arrested during the investigation and several individuals are being sought. The arrests stem from a 15-month investigation that included wiretaps on 15 telephones, physical surveillance and controlled purchases and seizures of cocaine and heroin.

Criminal complaints unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Haven said the investigation began last year to combat narcotics trafficking and money-laundering in New London. Officials say the investigation showed two conspiracies centered in New London County — one involving heroin distribution and the other cocaine.

"We allege that the defendants arrested today were responsible for a very large percentage of the heroin and cocaine available for street sale in New London County," U.S. Attorney David Fein said.

Officials said Luis Ariel Capellan Maldonado, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, brought "multi-kilogram quantities" of heroin from his native country and worked with several individuals to distribute the drug in southeastern Connecticut. Operating out of his apartment in New London, Maldonado supplied customers with raw heroin, often in quantities of 50 to 150 grams, authorities said.

Maldonado is accused of coordinating the shipment of heroin and sometimes cocaine, using couriers from the Dominican Republic to the United States. He also is accused of obtaining heroin in New York City and Rhode Island.

It was not immediately known if Maldonado is represented by a lawyer.

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