News of drug ring bust a reminder how difficult is the fight
Our community was dealt a tough reality check in recent weeks with evolving news of the size and scope of an alleged drug trafficking ring that has been operating in our region. It was a reminder that there will always be some people, driven by greed, who will set aside fears of arrest and disregard the suffering and death that results from their peddling poison on the streets of their community.
That local businesses were implicated in the alleged laundering of drug money added to the disheartening and disconcerting aspects of this story. According to the grand jury indictment, the ring was responsible for the distribution and sale of cocaine, heroin and deadly fentanyl throughout southeastern Connecticut. The investigation, stretching nearly a year from March 2018 to February 2019 involved court-authorized wiretaps and undercover drug purchases.
The constitutional presumption is, as it must be, innocent until proven guilty. But the extent of this distribution ring, and its reported inclusion of prominent members of our community, suggests a far-reaching enterprise that took a serious investigation to uncover. A federal grand jury handed down 24 indictments spread among individuals from nine communities.
At times like these, it is appropriate to remember the good work that so many are doing to combat the opioid epidemic that is gripping our country, state and community. The area has emerged as a leader in taking a comprehensive approach to dealing with the crisis, steering the addicted into treatment programs and addressing it as the disease that it is.
On the same day that details of the drug indictments became public, the community learned that New London Mayor Michael Passero had joined the Connecticut Opioid Strategy Task Force as a co-chair. Already on the bipartisan task force are mayors from New Britain, Wallingford and New Haven. The group backs the proposed Opioid Accountability Act in the state legislature. It would give municipalities the ability to seek damages from pharmaceutical companies they consider responsible for recklessly — and greedily — promoting prescribed opioid use, contributing to widespread addiction in their communities.
Holding those responsible to account — whether it be law enforcement busting street-level drug rings or the civil courts serving as a check on the abuses of Big Pharma — can play an important role in easing the scope of this slowly evolving disaster.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.