by Robert Cyr
NEW BRITAIN – A local focus on complaints of street-level drug dealers and neighborhood violence has lead police here to a recent spike in drug arrests and seizures, including two large recent caches of cocaine and heroin, according to police.
Neighborhoods with violent incidents, known as “hot spots,” are investigated and often found with small-time drug dealers, said Capt. Thomas Speck. The department also has a special services unit, including a detective that liaisons with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency that leads to larger arrests.
“Anytime we have a hot spot that has an up-tick, we’ll try to approach it multi-prong,” Speck said. “In drug work, its all about timing.
Our guys obviously in the last two or three weeks have timed it extremely well – we’ve had a run of substantial seizures. Our officers are continually out there to try to make cases.”
Working with the DEA and post office, police seized about four pounds of cocaine two weeks ago worth as much as $150,000. The team had been watching Rafael Duval, 34,of 134 Monroe St., after receiving a tip that he was receiving suspicious packages. Alexis Correa, 32, of 59 Webster St., #3, Hartford, and Duval were charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school, attempt to possess narcotics and conspiracy to commit possession of narcotics with intent to sell.
A day later after that bust, police confiscated 756 packets of heroin with a street value of about $7,500, charging Dora Whitehouse, 54, and Jessica Whitehouse, 26, of 152 Oak St., with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell and possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school.
“Sometimes you’ll get a larger dealer, but the complaints we get are more about street-level stuff that affects quality of life, and we go neighborhood by neighborhood,” Steck said.
Special Services Officer John Webster said the department does not readily have statistics of how many drugs are seized from year-to-year, but the take so far for 2014 is “no more than normal.” Seized contraband is brought routinely to an incinerator in Bristol and destroyed, he said.
DEA spokesperson Joseph Moses in Washington, D.C. said the agency does not track drug seizures on a town or city-wide basis unless the DEA is directly involved with an individual seizure, and that “there’s no requirement for local departments to tell us what they seize per year – the DEA does its own paperwork.”