Drug trafficking investigation leads to 14 arrests in Norwich
Norwich — A months-long investigation into illegal drug trafficking in Norwich culminated Thursday with a warrant sweep and the arrest of 10 people on a variety of drug possession and sales charges.
The morning started with the execution of two search and seizure warrants and led to several on-site arrests during what police have dubbed “Operation City Wide.”
Police said an investigation focused on street-level dealers peddling everything from prescription narcotics and heroin to crack cocaine and marijuana led to the arrest of a total of 13 on drug-related charges. Police also seized cash, drugs, and several vehicles and served a warrant on a man wanted on felony assault charges, bringing the arrest total to 14.
The arrests were the work of detectives aided by patrol officers and members of the department’s community policing unit, according to a statement from Norwich Police Detective Lt. Mark Rankowitz.
One search warrant was executed at 20 N. Cliff St., third floor, where police said heroin was being dealt. Police charged resident Baudelio “Indio” Valentin, 51, with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was held in lieu of a $5,000 bond.
A second search warrant led to the arrest of Antonio “Chubbs” Bahamundi, 28, at 92 Washington St., Unit 1A. Police said the apartment was used for dealing crack cocaine. He was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was held in lieu of a $5,000 bond.
Police seized a small amount of cash and drugs at each location.
As part of the same investigation, police arrested the following individuals by warrant:
Robert Hall, 33, of 114C Woodland Drive in Uncasville was charged with possession of crack cocaine and interfering with an officer. He was held in lieu of a $10,000 bond.
James LePage, 24, of 51 Henry St., No. B3, Norwich, was charged with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was held in lieu of a $4,500 bond.
Courtney Choiniere, 34, and Darrell VanWagner, 33, both of 2 Chapel Hill Road in Norwich were each charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of more than 4 ounces of marijuana, possession of more than 1 kilogram of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police said they seized marijuana packaged for sale and in various stages of growth as part of that investigation.
Choiniere was held in lieu of a $750 bond and VanWagner was held in lieu of a $1,500 bond.
Mohammad Farhad, 30, of 463 E. Main St., second floor, Norwich, was charged with two counts of sale of crack cocaine. He was held in lieu of a $7,500 bond.
Arrested at a car stop was Nicholas W. Albrezzi, 26, of 151 Maple Drive in Groton. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana. He was held in lieu of a $5,000 bond.
Arrested in a parking lot on Laurel Hill were Norberto Martinez, 43, of 35 Hawthorne Drive, Unit A4, in New London, and Carlos Cruz, 49, of 27 Bentley Ave. in Norwich. Martinez was charged with sale of narcotics and Cruz with possession of narcotics. Police seized several prescription narcotic tablets and a 2008 Nissan Titan. Both were released on nonsurety bonds.
Arrested on June 26 was Rason Lockhart, 20, of 6 Sandy Lane, Norwich, and Ana Funes, of 33 North A St., Taftville. Both were charged with conspiracy/sale of marijuana and conspiracy/possession of more than 4 ounces of marijuana. Seized as part of the investigation were more than 4 ounces of marijuana and a 2012 Mazda 6. Lockhart was held in lieu of a $5,000 bond and Funes was held in lieu of a $1,000 bond.
Arrested on June 30 was Ricardo Tavarez, 34, of 111 Central Ave., Norwich. He was charged with possession of heroin with intent to sell, possession of steroids and possession of drug paraphernalia. Seized as part of the investigation was cash, steroids, a small amount of heroin, drug paraphernalia and a 2011 Acura MDX. Bond information was not immediately available for Tavarez.
Additionally, police served an active warrant on Daniel J. Rojas, 18, of 14 Williams St. in Norwich. He was charged with second-degree assault and carrying a dangerous weapon.
All of the accused are expected to appear at Norwich Superior Court on various dates in July.
Police said they continue to combat illicit drug dealing and more arrests are expected. Anyone with information relative to drug dealing in the Norwich area is asked to call the Norwich Police Department at (860) 886-5561. All calls will be kept confidential.
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