In a lengthy investigation prompted by efforts to curb drug activity in Enfield, police obtained 53 warrants for 27 suspects likely involved in selling drugs in town and brought in 8.
One by one, Enfield police officers suspects into a prisoner transport van outside town hall.
The warrants, mostly for felony charges, stem from a nine-month investigation that began last April into narcotics trafficking in Enfield, particularly the Thomsponville section of town, according to Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza.
They include 64 charges ranging from the sale of narcotics and crack cocaine to assault, burglary, larceny and gun-related charges, Sferrazza said at a press conference Wednesday morning at Enfield Town Hall.
"We are no different than any other community in Hartford County with the plague of heroin in our community and we set out back in April to see what types of investigations we could go forth with to put an end to it," Sferrazza said.
Three of the suspects in custody are Daniel Cosgrove, Craig Bosley, 32, and Luis Gomez, 24, of Maple Street in Enfield. Local police, assisted by ATF and Drug Enforcement Administration officials, spent Wednesday rounding up the rest.
The operation to stomp out drug dealing in Enfield was initially premised on investigations into "outlaw biker gangs at a local establishment in town where drug dealing was allegedly taking place," Sferazza said.
Police have not identified that establishment. While looking into the gang-related drug dealing and reported heroin problems in town, police gathered information about more extensive drug activity in Enfield.
Sferrazza said that the narcotics investigations were not limited to Thompsonville, but the majority of the suspects were active in that area of town.
Police infiltrated drug dealers in Enfield to identify suspects, Sferrazza said. While the police department doesn't believe that rounding up the 27 suspects will completely drive drugs out of town, police do think they have "significantly impacted their ability to do business in town."
"We're not fooling ourselves into believing there's not a drug problem anymore, 'cause I'm sure someone's thinking of taking their place as we speak," Sferrazza said. "What they need to understand is that our commitment to ridding our town of drugs doesn't end with this operation, that we will refocus and we begin as we speak a new investigation. So, anyone that thinks they can make an easy buck here in Enfield by selling drugs, it's going to be our contention that if that's what you're going to do, then we're equally committed to detecting, investigating and seeing that these people are in prison."
Sferrazza characterized the suspects as mid-level drug dealers who often are supplied with drugs from cities. Many of them did not grow up in Enfield and are "transplants," most of whom reside in town, he said.
"These individuals are not predominantly possession of drugs. These are people who are engaged in the active business of selling drugs," Sferrazza said.
The operation required confidentiality and police didn't want to compromise the investigation, so that's why the department is just releasing the information now, he said. The department also arrested several street-level drug dealers over the summer.
"So, althought it may have appeared to the community that the department was no active in drug intervention, the exact opposite was true," Sferrazza said. "We didn't step up our game today. We were in it from day one."
Bosley was wanted on six warrants, including possession of narcotics and possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school. Gomez is being charged with third-degree assault and breach of peace in a family violence incident.
The men will not be arraigned Wednesday, but police are holding them in custody on high bonds and expect they will appear in Enfield Superior Court on Thursday.
The department believes the cases are "iron-clad" and "solid," Sferrazza said.
"Unlike roundups where we've arrested people for possession, these are people that are engaged in the practice of actually sale and that elevates it to a felony," he said.
Sferrazza said Enfield police have heard the complaints of residents and that they hear the "plight, the agony and the tragedy" that heroin brings and connected crimes.
"I think it's significant for us and I think we've certainly put a crimp in the drug trade for now, but, like I said, we realize this is an ongoing problem and Enfield's not alone," he said.