After a rash of drug overdoses, police in Maryland and Virginia say they have dismantled a major heroin ring in the D.C. area.
Ten men and a woman from Alexandria, Fairfax County, Prince George's County and Prince William County were arrested March 11 in raids, police and prosecutors announced Monday.
Prosecutors say the 11 suspects, who range in age from 31 to 63, worked together to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin.
"If you break it all the way down to 0.1-gram doses, it could be as much as $1 million of street value," Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter said.
In searches of the suspects' homes, Virginia State Police and Alexandria police found 400 grams of heroin, 330 grams of cocaine, 7 pounds of marijuana, 19 grams of PCP, 10 guns and more than $18,000 in cash.
The investigation police called "Operation Purple Rain" began in 2016, about the time the musician Prince died of a drug overdose in April. In Alexandria alone, 26 heroin overdoses were reported over the course of the year.
The objective is to get drugs off the street, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said
"We have been relentless in pursuing the dealers and traffickers that bring this poison into our neighborhoods and profit off of this crisis," he said Monday at a news conference.
In Alexandria on Monday, 78-year-old Bernice Mann was in tears as she spoke about the arrests of her sons Dwayne Mann and Tony S. Mann, and her grandson Tony Smith. Standing in the doorway of her home, which police searched, she said her sons both are addicted to drugs. But she denied the police allegations that they are significant drug dealers.
"It's not true. They're not in no drug-dealing ring. They might have purchased drugs from somebody that's selling them or that got a big batch of it, but my two sons, they are not in no drug ring," she said.
Bernice Mann said she believes police used her sons to get to bigger drug dealers.
Police stand by their assessment that the arrests will shut down a significant heroin pipeline.
Anthony D. Terry, 57, of Dumfries, was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin.
Robert E. Hunt, 54, of Alexandria, was charged with distribution of heroin.
These nine suspects were charged with racketeering and conspiracy to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin: Dwayne Mann, 56, of Alexandria; Tony S. Mann, 55, of Alexandria; Jaqueline D. McBride, 61, of Fairfax County; Ronald Morton 39, of Clinton; Tony D. Smith, 31, of Woodbridge; Albert B. Taylor, 60, of Alexandria; Gregory Taylor, 43, of Fort Washington; Tyrone Washington, 37, of Fort Washington and Richard C. Williams Jr., 63, of Alexandria.
Officials hope the bust will reduce overdoses, though no overdoses were linked to the 11 suspects.
"Heroin dealers and traffickers have been taken off the street. Lives will be a saved because they are no longer dealing in these addictive drugs," the state attorney general said.