More than 20 arrested for illegal narcotics activity in Northwest DC

A still image from a May 26, 2022 police news briefing shows firearms and magazines, confiscated in joint local and federal operation against illegal narcotics activity. (Courtesy DCN)

More than 20 people are now in custody following a yearlong investigation into illegal narcotics activity and firearms possession in a Northwest D.C. neighborhood, local and federal law enforcement officials said Thursday.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said 22 people were arrested and charged for their alleged involvement with “significant illegal activity” that included the distribution of marijuana, cocaine and fentanyl in the vicinity of 7th and O streets, or throughout Northwest Washington’s LeDroit, Truxton and Shaw neighborhoods.

“We know that members of the community have been rightfully angry and frustrated about the violence happening here,” Bowser said. “And while there is more work to do, we believe that making these arrests is a critical first step to turning this violence around.”

Eleven handguns, various types of ammunition and drug stockpiles were confiscated over the course of the operation, which was code-named “Uptown Express” and involved the execution of 22 residential search warrants — 20 of them in the District and two in Maryland. The arrests were the result of a joint effort between D.C. police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI.

“These are the outcomes we’re looking for — more than half of the indicted and identified suspects involved in this operation have prior arrests for illegal guns,” D.C. police Lt. Lashay Makal said. “We’re talking about violent offenders who will no longer be terrorizing this neighborhood with unnecessary and tragic violence.”

The 22 arrests range in age from 23 to 54. All are residents of the District save one, who resides in Temple Hills, Maryland. Twelve people arrested were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; federal officials are still seeking a thirteenth man they said was indicted but is not yet in custody.

Ten other people previously indicted as a result of the joint investigation face a variety of charges related to drug and firearm possession.

“MPD and our federal partners have done their part by making these arrests, now it’s time for the rest of the justice system to ensure that those who harm and bring violence to our communities are held accountable,” Bowser said.

“People are tired of gun violence. We’re tired of mass shootings and in cities like ours, we’re tired of neighborhood violence.”

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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