Drug Squad Back in Busting Action

Reformed NARC unit takes 10 into custody

After a shake-up of their own that shut down their department for two years, the New Haven Tactical Narcotics Unit shook up the streets of New Haven on Wednesday morning.

“Operation Restart” nabbed 10 people after issuing 30 arrest warrants in the their first major narcotics sting since the narcotics division was shut down.

Two years ago, the TNU’s top lieutenant and an officer were arrested, accused of taking bribes and stealing government property.

“We reformed policy for informant narcotic enforcement,” said Peter Reichard, assistant chief of investigation. “We ran into problems in the past and we have checks and balances. We know where the money is going.”

Wednesday’s sweep was in the Hill South neighborhood but the unit is looking for anyone allegedly involved with drugs. They’re after low- and mid-level dealers who bought drugs from undercover officers last year.

In the next phase of “Operation Restart,” small-time offenders who qualify won’t be arrested. Instead, police will hold the warrant and offer them education and job placement. They will not be arrested if they stay out of trouble.

“We’re looking to bring crime down in the city,” John Velleca, head of the narcotics squad, said. “They're usually intertwined with narcotics dealing at some level, so if we can take them off the street they won't have the opportunity to commit anymore of the violent crimes.”

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