Arrests This Week Follow 20-Month Investigation; Drugs and Guns Seized
WASHINGTON – Eighteen people have been arrested following their indictments on federal charges in connection with an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking networks that distributed heroin, crack cocaine, and cocaine in the Washington, D.C. area. To date, more than 2,000 grams of cocaine and more than 200 grams of heroin have been seized as a result of the investigation, along with 16 firearms, six vehicles, body armor, and more than $40,000 in cash.
The charges are contained in two indictments unsealed on April 12, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The charges were announced today by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
The indictments charge a total of 27 people with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, crack cocaine, and cocaine. Two of the arrested defendants –Terrance Antonio Thomas, 46, of Temple Hills, Md., and Darius Wilson, 40, of Waldorf, Md. – are charged in both indictments. Eleven others are charged in one of the cases, and 14 others are charged in the other case. The indictments include a forfeiture count against all of those now charged in the investigation, which seeks all proceeds from the crimes.
One defendant – Zenja Truitt, 47, of Upper Marlboro, Md. – is a teacher in Prince George’s County, Md., and was among those arrested.
The prosecution grew out of the efforts of the FBI/MPD Safe Streets Task Force, a multi-agency team that conducts comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Numerous law enforcement agencies assisted the FBI and MPD in the arrests and searches, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Prince George's County, Md. Police, Montgomery County, Md. Police, Anne Arundel County, Md., Police, Charles County, Md., Police, and Calvert County, Md. Police Departments,. The number of arrests represents one of the largest enforcement efforts aimed at Washington, D.C. drug trafficking organizations in recent years.
Seventeen people were arrested on April 12, 2018, and one turned himself in today. Another was already in custody and eight remain at large. The defendants began making court appearances on April 12, 2018, with further proceedings scheduled for today.
A total of 21 locations were searched during the law enforcement actions on April 12, including four in the District of Columbia, 11 in Prince George’s County, two in Calvert County, Md., one in Charles County, Md., two in Anne Arundel County, Md., and one in Montgomery County, Md.
If convicted of the charges, 10 defendants face prison sentences of 10 years to life, six face sentences of five to 40 years, and 11 face sentences of up to 20 years.
In August 2016, the Safe Streets Task Force began a long-term investigation into drug trafficking in the Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Md., border region. The indictments allege that various defendants conspired to carry out various facets of the drug operation from at least June 2016 until October 2017.
“These arrests and indictments are part of our continuing commitment to protecting the citizens of the District of Columbia from organizations bringing dangerous drugs into our community,” said U.S. Attorney Liu. “By breaking up these trafficking networks, we hope to cut off supply of heroin, cocaine and other drugs, and make our neighborhoods safer.”
"This case represents the epitome of law enforcement agencies working together to target and dismantle drug organizations that threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods,” said Assistant Director in Charge McNamara. “These arrests should send a strong message that the FBI, along with our partners on the Safe Streets Task Force, will continue to pursue those who wreak havoc on our communities through the sale of illegal drugs.”
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Chief Newsham commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Safe Streets Task Force, including the FBI’s Washington Field Office and MPD. They acknowledged the sponsorship and support of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Additionally, they expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Washington D.C./Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA); the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C. Field Office; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Prince George's County, Md. Police, Montgomery County, Md. Police, Anne Arundel County, Md., Police, Charles County, Md., Police, and Calvert County, Md. Police Departments, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
Finally they cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Magdalena Acevedo, Kacie Weston and Mark Aziz, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Swanton, who assisted with the forfeiture aspects of the investigation.