Providence police shut down drug ring, arrest 30 suspects
Providence police said Thursday that they have broken a major heroin and fentanyl distribution organization in Southern New England and that officers arrested 30 suspects.
The arrests were the culmination of a 10-month investigation dubbed Operation Stop the Flow.
Col. Hugh Clements said the bust would have an impact on the drug epidemic in New England.
"This is a significant and major drug operation," Clements said. "The Providence Police Department, law enforcement and New England will not stop. We will be aggressive. We will proactively target drug dealers who are killing people in our communities, who are poisoning our communities. We will not stop. This will be a priority."
Police seized more than 1 kilogram of heroin and fentanyl, $65,000 in cash, a 9mm semi-automatic gun with live rounds and drug paraphernalia.
Police said 24 of the suspects are from Fall River and that six are from the Providence area.
The top three leaders of the alleged operation were arrested, police said. They are in their teens or 20s.
Police identified the head of the organization as 26-year-old Johan Jimenez of Providence. He faces multiple conspiracy charges.
Conspiracy charges were also brought against Mario Hernandez, 28, of Cranston -- labeled as a "dispatcher" -- and Yosiel Rondon Vargas, 19, of Providence, whom police said was a "runner."
NBC 10 News spoke to residents in both cities, with neighbors saying the homes were always quiet and they never saw the people who lived there.
Folks on Swanton Street in Providence noticed SUVs coming and going with New York and New Jersey plates, but said nothing from the home ever seemed suspicious.
Ward 8 Councilman Wilbur Jennings said children are always in the area. He also said the work of the police on the case should be celebrated.
"This proves that we can't do without policemen in this world," he told NBC 10. "Everybody's always talking about policemen -- how bad they are. But you know what? Look how good they are. They're going after the big fish and obviously they got some big fish."
Police said they are still looking for six other dealers from Massachusetts tied to the ring.