Federal, state and local authorities worked together to arrest approximately 100 people throughout southeastern Connecticut on charges related to trafficking heroin and cocaine from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Authorities said Wednesday's operations broke up two large drug rings and confiscated significant amounts of heroin and cocaine.
"Drug trafficking operations must be aggressively attacked and dismantled at every level," said Special Agent-in-Charge Bruce Foucart of HSI Boston. "Today we have stopped two criminal organizations from bringing significant quantities of heroin and cocaine into our communities in Connecticut and throughout New England."
During the 15-month investigation, authorities used court-authorized wiretaps on 15 telephones to help gather evidence.
"The fact is we have dismantled them. We have taken them down," Foucart said during a press conference that was held at Camp Niantic Wednesday afternoon. "Today the people of Connecticut and ultimately New England are safer from the violence that drug trafficking brings."
Investigators also gathered extensive physical surveillance on controlled purchases and seizures of cocaine and heroin.
Police also seized narcotics, firearms, cash and vehicles during the investigation.
"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," said U.S. Attorney David Fein in a statement Wednesday.
Fein went on to say that federal, state and local law enforcement agents will continue "to disrupt the flow of illegal narcotics and to identifying and seizing assets purchased with the proceeds of drug trafficking."
Police told Eyewitness News the two drug rings established a huge drug presence in New London.
Many of the suspects arrested appeared in court Wednesday. If convicted, the suspects could face five to 10 years in prison.
Members of the Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as the Connecticut State Police and officers from several town police departments participated in Wednesday's operation.
In total, more than 700 law enforcement officers were involved in operations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Puerto Rico.
In Norwich, Eyewitness News cameras were rolling when two pit bulls were taken out of a home. The pit bulls are now with animal control officers.
"It's about time they take these drugs off the streets," said Samantha James, of Norwich. "You see drug dealers and kids and you find needles and stuff in the parks. It's just out of control."
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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