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Regional heroin ring dismantled, 11 indicted in Alexandria

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter talk to reporters outside Alexandria Police Headquarters on Monday, March 20, 2017. Herring and Porter announced that Virginia authorities had dismantled a heroin trafficking network that had pushed as much as $1 million worth of the drug during the past year and was believed to be involved in several overdoses in the region. Eleven people have been arrested and face racketeering and other charges in Alexandria. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A rash of heroin overdoses in Alexandria launched a yearlong investigation that crossed into six communities on both side of the Potomac River and disrupted a trafficking network that has pushed nearly $1 million worth of heroin onto the region’s streets, Virginia authorities said Monday.

Eleven men and women from Northern Virginia and Prince George’s County, Maryland, have been indicted on charges of racketeering, illegal drug possession and distribution, the Alexandria City Police Department announced Monday.

The March 11 arrests came after police served eight search warrants at homes throughout the area, including in Alexandria, plus Prince William and Fairfax counties in Virginia and in Prince George’s County.

Investigators seized more than 400 grams of heroin, enough to generate as many as 4,000 individual doses, officials said. They also confiscated 10 guns, several vehicles including some that were described as “high-end,” more than 330 grams of cocaine, 19 grams of PCP, 7 pounds of marijuana and $18,000 in cash.

“This didn’t come from a few drug deals on a street corner,” said Gary Settle, director of the Virginia State Police criminal investigative bureau. “These men and women were organized. They were part of a complex network responsible for trafficking thousands of dollars worth of heroin and cocaine throughout the region – heroin that came very close to costing people their lives.”

The overdoses were reported by local emergency rooms and community members. Investigators found a common distributor that linked those non-fatal cases, Settle said.

“We put a significant dent here in the city for a short period of time,” Bryan Porter, the commonwealth’s attorney for Alexandria, said of the arrests.

Prosecutors believe that during the last year, the network handled more than a kilogram of heroin, worth as much as a million dollars on the street.

Last year, about 26 heroin overdoses were reported in the Alexandria. And in January, 15 people died of overdoses in Northern Virginia, Porter said.

Overdoses from heroin and opioid abuse are on the rise statewide. In 2016, the number of Virginians who died from a fatal dose was expected to rise by a third compared to one year earlier – to 1,000 deaths, based on state health department estimates.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said the case represents a new model to cut off the supply of heroin in the state by coordinating between local and state investigators and with similar collaboration between his office and local prosecutors.

“Operation Purple Rain has been a success,” Herring said of the joint effort. “Lives will be saved because they are no longer dealing in these addictive drugs.”

But he cautioned that enforcement alone won’t be enough to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic gripping the state. Treatment, prevention and education too will be needed to reduce the demand for the highly addictive, modern form of heroin, he said.

“We won’t be able to arrest our way out of this problem,” Herring said.

The arrests were first announced by authorities on Monday. All eleven have gone before a judge and have been appointed defense counsel, Porter said.

Penalties for the charges range from 40 years to life in prison, depending on the charge, according to Porter’s office.

The ages of those arrested range from 31 to 63. Here are their charges:

  • Anthony D. Terry, 57, of Dumfries, Virginia — Possession with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin
  • Robert E. Hunt, 54, of Alexandria, Virginia — Three counts of distribution of heroin
  • Gregory Taylor, 43, of Fort Washington, Maryland — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Tyrone Washington, 37, of Fort Washington, Maryland — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Tony S. Mann, 55, of Alexandria, Virginia — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Albert B. Taylor, 60, of Alexandria, Virginia — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Tony D. Smith, 31, of Woodbridge, Virginia. — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Jaqueline D. McBride, 61, of Fairfax County, Virginia — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Richard C. Williams Jr., 63, of Alexandria, Virginia — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Dwayne Mann, 56, of Alexandria, Virginia — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin
  • Ronald Morton 39, of Clinton, Maryland — Racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.


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