It’s being called the largest drug bust in the state’s history. 55 individuals indicted on multiple drug and weapons charges involving law enforcement agencies in Maryland and Delaware dubbed “Operation Dawg House”.
During a press conference yesterday, Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced the charges levied against the suspects.
“In the midst of an addiction epidemic that claims more than 400 lives a year – and in which Delaware has consistently been one of the country’s three hardest-hit states – this operation saved lives,” Jennings says. “We need to help our neighbors in need get on the path to recovery, and need to hold accountable everyone who has helped fuel the addiction crisis – from the industry that sowed the seeds of the epidemic to the drug traffickers who profit off of it today. I am profoundly grateful to DSP and the team that led this investigation, and to each of our neighbors who are working to help us rebuild from the devastation of this crisis.”
The two-year investigation on the operation began in November 2020. Through the investigation, George Johnson was developed as the leader of the criminal enterprise, along with several other individuals accused of major contributors to the heroin epidemic in the state.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, who was part of the multi-state investigation, says this was the largest bust he’s seen in his 38-year career.
“Large scale drug traffickers have no boundaries. Consequently, based on the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies representing numerous jurisdictions along the east coast, we have charged these individuals with orchestrating a drug distribution network that would be the envy of any fortune 500 company. The organization had enough fentanyl and heroin to kill thousands of Marylanders.”
In total, over 330,000 bags of heroin with a street value of over $1.6 million were seized – along with 771 grams of marijuana, 5.8 of cocaine, and 10 ecstasy doses. Three stolen firearms with their serial numbers scratched off were also seized, along with $65,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
Delaware State Police Captain John Wood says the investigation began when a series of overdose deaths started. At the start 2021 alone, there were 6 deaths related to Johnson’s product.
“The successful closure of large-scale narcotics investigations would not be possible without the collaborative efforts of all involved agencies,” Worcester County Sheriff Matthew Crisafulli says in a statement. “This case closure has undoubtedly saved thousands of lives in Maryland and Delaware. I applaud all of the law enforcement agencies involved in this complex investigation. I am proud to be associated with the men and women who worked tirelessly, to unravel this enormous narcotics investigation.”
44 of the individuals, including Johnson, have been arrested – with two suspects awaiting extradition from Maryland. Warrants have been issued for 9 other. In total, 232 felony charges have been issued along with 38 misdemeanors.
UPDATE: We reached out to Delaware State Police to ask for more information on the case and where the busts occurred. They tell us that “the investigation came to a close in late November with a tactical traffic stop conducted by DSP SORT, and 5 simultaneous residential search warrants in Delaware and Maryland. The seized items came mostly from these events; however, some of the listed items were seized during the course of the investigation.”
“There were a series of smaller seizures made during the course of the investigation at various points from 09/22/21-12/03/21. Those smaller seizures were the other photographs contained in the press packet. Then there was the large seizure of 2,500 logs (2,275 grams / 2.275 kilos) of Heroin that was seized at the conclusion of the investigation on December 03, 2021. That seizure occurred in the Felton area in Kent County as the product was being transported to the Laurel area.”