Operation Dawg House nabs dozens of suspects, large amount of drugs, cash

LEWES, Del. – Wednesday, local, state, and federal law enforcement announced the completion of Operation Dawg House. Dozens of suspects are facing felony charges after they were connected to a large heroin and opioid trafficking ring stretching across the North East.

Operation Dawg House

Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings says the drugs recovered from the streets in this investigation could potentially save thousands of lives. “The seizure of the amount of heroin that was taken in this operation is historic in Delaware,” she said.

In all, 55 subjects have been indicted. 45 subjects have been arrested, and share 232 felony charges and 38 misdemeanor charges. Two subjects are currently in custody in Maryland, pending extradition. They are facing a total of seven felony charges. Nine more subjects are still at large, totaling 114 felony charges, and three misdemeanor charges.

Police recovered 330,605 bags of heroin, with a street value of $1,653,025. The seizure of pre-packaged heroin is the largest in Delaware’s history. Investigators also recovered 20 heroin/fentanyl mixture caplets, 5.82 grams or crack cocaine, 771.06 grams of marijuana, and 10 ecstasy doses.

Three firearms, including one stolen with the serial number obliterated, $65,000 in cash, three vehicles, drug paraphernalia, cell phones, and documents were also taken off the streets. “While we see the scope of illegal drugs, it can be hard to measure the full gravity these individuals and drugs could have had on our state and on our communities,” said Del. Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Nathaniel McQueen Jr.

Law enforcement says the network stretched across Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and possibly New Jersey. “This case shows how sharing investigative personnel, resources, and intelligence can greatly impact a violent drug trafficking criminal organization,” said Delaware State Police Colonel Melissa Zebley.

Investigators say the crime ring was headed by George Johnson. Johnson reportedly operated out of Georgetown and surrounding areas. “We believe that the defendants comprise Sussex County’s largest heroin supplying network; a criminal enterprise that generated millions of dollars a year,” said Jennings. “They were preying on the misery of others, and we have a real addiction problem throughout our state, and in Maryland also.”

Interstate Investigation, Local Lives Impacted

Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis says he was “shocked” at the sheer amount of subjects and drugs involved in the investigation. “The drug seizures and money seizure alone that we’ve seen in the last several months are the largest of my 38 year career in law enforcement,” he said. “The amount of heroin and fentanyl coming into Sussex county, Worcester County, and Wicomico County was enough to kill thousands in Maryland alone, let alone the state of Delaware.”

But, the increase of opioids making their way into Wicomico County doesn’t come as a shock to Sheriff Lewis. He says it’s been a growing problem in the county for the past three and a half years. “We’ve seen an enormous increase in the amount of fentanyl that we are seizing on traffic stops, during our search warrants,” said Sheriff Lewis.

Jennings says in Delaware, opioids claim 400 lives per year. She adds that the First State is one of the top three states most affected by opioid epidemic. “The harm that can be repaired, at least will take years, if not decades,” she said. “Make no mistake about it: [we will] hold everyone accountable who has field the addiction crisis, whether that’s the industry that sewed the seeds of the epidemic, or or drug traffickers who profit off of misery.”

“We will continue to fight”

Moving forward, Sheriffs Lewis and Crisafulli promised more significant seizures in the future. “We have a long way to go. This is the type of war that we will continue to fight,” said Sheriff Crisafulli.

Sheriff Crisafulli adds that a key component of fighting this type of crime is spreading the word of its danger within the community. “What we’re seeing here are the enforcement efforts. But, in fighting a war like this, we also need to continue with the other components, such as prevention and education.”

Categories: Crime, Delaware, Local News, Maryland, Opioid Crisis