More than 40 indicted in heroin-dealing ring bust in New Castle County

By Amy Cherry 4:23pm, May 29, 2015 - Updated 4:58pm, May 29, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Local, state, and federal agencies announced Friday they've shut down a massive heroin-dealing ring in New Castle County.



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Dubbed "Operation Smack Down," authorities said they've arrested alleged drug kingpin Adrin Smack and indicted more than 40 others in connection with a heroin-dealing ring that was plaguing the Sparrow Run community in Bear, according to New Castle County Police Chief Col. Elmer Setting.

Police said the bust was possible due to the combined efforts of New Castle County Police, Wilmington Police, Delaware State Police, and the FBI.

"When you have type of cooperation, this is the kind of operation that you can pull off," said Setting. "And not just take out your supplier, not just take out the low-level street dealers, but to take out the people that are taking away our quality of life with prostitution and property crime."

"Operation Smack Down" began in August of 2014, in response to what police said was a need to track violence in the region and the illegal drug sales responsible for it.

New Castle County Police's 'Operation Smack Down' has led to the indictments of more than 40 people.

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County Police Lt. Col. Matthew Jamison said the execution of search warrants led to the seizure of 10,524 bags of heroin, 35.5 grams of cocaine, 27.4 grams of marijuana, at least 2 guns, ammunition, and $17,053 in suspected drug money.

More than 157 grams of heroin was seized in 'Operation Smack Down.'

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"We know that these individuals are linked to violent crimes and hope their removal from society not only reduces future violent crimes, but may also assist with past and still-unsolved criminal acts," said Jamison.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Vogt said the cooperation among law enforcement won't stop with this bust.

"If you want to traffic heroin and commit violent acts on the streets, do so at your own risk; we'll be coming for you next," he warned.

Setting said many of those involved in the ring reside in Sparrow Run, or were frequenting the Bear townhomes and Wilmington, to deal drugs. He hopes, by bringing this large-scale heroin operation to its knees, Sparrow Run will have a "quiet summer."

"It's not fair for the folks that live in Sparrow Run to be in such a torment all of the time because these folks are typically armed, and the quality of life dissipates when you have people in the parks, in the streets, doing hand-to-hand transactions, and prostitutes, and people stealing from their neighbors to support a heroin addict," he said.

Police are still looking for the following fugitives in connection to the ring:

Javon Cannon, 26

Adam Graham, 22

Jonathan Hilbeck, 23

Tiffany Smack, 26

Marco Medina-Acosta, 21

Robin Spicer, 26

Danielle Terry, 27

Anyone with information on the location of the wanted subjects above is asked to contact the New Castle County Police Department at 302.573.2800.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.




Carney, O'Mara host climate change roundtable

By Shana O'Malley 10:23am, May 30, 2015
VIDEO: Rep. John Carney and Collin O'Mara of NWF discuss climate change in Delaware
Congressman John Carney is wrapping up a weeklong tour discussing climate change in Delaware.

Carney was joined by National Wildlife Federation CEO and former DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara and various environmental organizations in Delaware for a panel discussion on climate change Friday afternoon at the DuPont Environmental Center in Wilmington.

O'Mara said he's happy to see some of the climate resiliency efforts in his home state.

"I'm really excited because I think there's things we're doing here that are actually pretty cutting edge," O'Mara said. "As I travel the country, there are places that are rebuilding smarter after some of the storms, and I think we're actually leading that as well."

Carney spent the past week meeting with local leaders and environmental researchers to discuss flooding and environmental hazard issues, review new infrastructure projects and tour Delaware waterways.

"There are a lot of things happening, a lot of impacts that sea rise is having on communities from the inland bays down at the shore where people enjoy summer vacations all the way up to

Southbridge and the flooding they experience there," Carney said.

Carney said he'll use the information gathered over the past week to help facilitate research and try to find funding in Washington for the most critical projects.


The First State National Park unveils some new educational signage

By Joe Irizarry 3:22pm, May 29, 2015
The new signage visitors will see around Delaware's national park
New highway and interpretive signs have been unveiled for the First State National Historical Park in Dover.

The signs will help visitors to The Green, a site for the First State National Park, learn about the significance of the area. First State National Historical Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley said this initiative would be the "tip of the iceburg" for what visitors would see as the parks develop.

"What this really symbolizes is a stake-in-the-ground for the national park," he said. "We've been doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes, (taking) a lot of inventory, and (done) a lot of studying the history."

McKinley said the efforts are to help others--especially visitors from abroad--learn about how important the First State is:

"(There's been) a lot of finding out how to spread the word of Delaware's--and Dover's--history with the country," he said. "And we're coming up with some really great things."

The process to come up with the signs took six-to-seven months, which included several meetings with historians to make sure everything--especially language--was correct.


AUDIO: Senator Carper wants Congress to support transportation funding

By Joe Irizarry 10:33am, May 30, 2015
The Thompsonville Overpass construction site at Route 1. (Photo/Joe Irizarry)
Senator Carper is calling, again, for Congress to pass long-term transportation funding.

Carper was at the Thompsonville Overpass construction site in Milford to discuss the need to pass the funding so projects like that one, which is 90 percent federally funded, can be completed without tapping into the general fund.

Carper says the federal government plays a big role in any construction.

"The federal government is a non-reliable partner in providing the money when it's needed on a project basis. We end up doing stop and go construction; it is hugely expensive, and it is hugely wasteful--not the way to run a railroad and also not the way to build a road," he said.

Carper added that half of the money spent by the state's transportation is federal dollars, and it's like that across the country.

Last week, Senators Carper and Coons rallied in Wilmington at the AAA Mid-Atlantic headquarters for passage of permanent transportation funding for infrastructure improvements nationwide.




Race weekend in Dover: DelDOT rolls out full advisory for traffic to 'The Monster Mile'

By Andrew Sgroi 2:30pm, May 29, 2015 - Updated 10:19am, May 30, 2015
A full weekend of racing in Dover promises full roadways leading to the speedway.

DelDOT's Gene Donaldson told WDEL, since most fans come from the north along southbound SR-1, restrictions are quick to crop up for Sunday's main event--the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which begins at 1 p.m.

"If there is (a) delay on Route 13 going into the track that's substantial enough," he revealed, "we'll close Exit 104 (Scarborough Road) on Delaware 1 and send them to Exit 95 to bring them north."

Even if traffic flows freely near the speedway, Donaldson offered that restrictions are always in consideration.

"It's a fluid situation. We have a plan which we've worked for a lot of years. The big thing is, it's set up to be flexible, depending on what happens out there."

Accidents are one unforeseen circumstance which can, of course, prompt officials to re-route traffic. But even queues into and out of parking areas--such as the main entrance lot--can force altered traffic patterns.

"Once that gets near (full)," Donaldson said, "we start to close the main entrance, and that causes us to shift traffic to the south to use Lot 1 and other lots."

Donaldson warned that, for some, the main entrance is likely not your best option anyway. He said everybody wants to go to the main entrance but, when the race is over, it's going to take longer to get out of there.

More advantageous parking locations, especially for after the race, are Lot 1 or even the Blue Hen Corporate Center Park & Ride ($20), which will shuttle you to and from the speedway via the Race Express Bus. The shuttle avoids the traffic congestion by using northbound Route 1 to an exclusive bus-only exit ramp leading directly to the track and takes about 12 minutes.

"(It's) really the fastest way in and out of the event."

But if you choose to fight that traffic on your own, you'll need to know of the certain advance closures:



Traffic out of the event can be complicated by the return of weekend beach traffic as well, so Donaldson made a key suggestion to those drivers.

"Wait until about 7, 8 p.m. to hit the Dover area if you're coming up from the beach."

Stay with WDEL's Beach TrafficWatch throughout the weekend for real-time information via on-air reports and text alerts.




Two arrested after opening fire outside private party

By Frank Gerace 2:54pm, May 30, 2015
State Police have arrested a pair of New Castle residents in connection with a "shots fired" incident at a private party Friday night.

Police say 17-year-old Isaiah Jones and 20-year-old Quadere Wilson tried to get into the party at Dance Works on Route 273 around 11:20 PM.

When a security guard at the front door told them they couldn't go in, the two went to the back door, where another guard told them they weren't welcome.

Jones and Wilson went back to the front door, where the first guard told them to leave, and Jones pulled a gun from his waistband, opening fire at the guard and four other people standing nearby.

Security guards caught up with Wilson near Gianco Auto Bid, while Jones was picked up in Del Tech's parking lot--troopers found the gun on Jones, and learned he's prohibited from having a gun, due to his age and a previous robbery conviction.

Jones is being held at the County Detention Center, and Wilson was booked into the Howard Young Prison.


MD man charged with DUI after Middletown-area crash critically injures passenger

By Frank Gerace 2:54pm, May 30, 2015
A Maryland man was charged with DUI and other offenses after a one-vehicle crash that left a man in critical condition.

State Police said Leoncio Romero was driving his pickup truck eastbound on Churchtown Road near Summit Bridge Road west of Middletown around 10:30 Friday night when he lost control of the truck going around a curve.

When the pickup ran off the road, Romero over-corrected, sending the truck back across the road, where it slammed into a phone pole.

The truck then crossed the road again, went through the front yard of a house and plowed into a tree--police say Romero ran from the scene, but troopers found him hiding in a stable nearby.

One of Romero's passengers was thrown through the truck's back window, and is in critical condition at Christiana Hospital--two others were treated for minor injuries and released.

Romero faces charges of vehicular assault and driving without a valid license in addition to the DUI count, and is being held at the Howard Young Prison.


Wilmington police confirm previously unreported shooting

By Tom Lehman 1:22pm, May 29, 2015 - Updated 1:34pm, May 29, 2015
Wilmington police on Friday confirmed a previously unreported shooting from more than two weeks ago in the city's West Center City section that sent a man to the hospital for a graze wound to his elbow.

The delay in disclosing details about the shooting, which occurred on May 13 in the 800 block of West Third Street, was partially caused by a denial from the 20-year-old victim that he had actually been shot, Sgt. Andrea Janvier said.

Police initially responded to the scene for a report of shots fired and found numerous bullet casings, but no victims or witnesses in the area, Janiver said.

The victim, police said, had arrived by private vehicle at Christiana Hospital's emergency room in Stanton with a minor graze wound to his right elbow.

Detectives found the victim to be uncooperative and he denied being shot in Wilmington--or even being wounded at all, Janvier said.

However, she said medical personnel who treated the man found that he had been shot and investigators had been able to link him to the gunshots at the 800 block of West Third Street.

As result, the incident has been classified by police as a shooting.

Anyone with information about the shooting can call the Wilmington Police Criminal Investigation Division at 302.576.3620. You can also submit an anonymous text message tip by texting the words TIP WILMINGTON and then your tip to 888777. Tips can also be submitted to Delaware CrimeStoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.




2 men detontate explosive device in Newark's Iron Hill Park

By Amy Cherry 12:59pm, May 29, 2015 - Updated 1:14pm, May 29, 2015
The Delaware State Fire Marshal is investigating an explosion in a park just outside Newark.

The blast happened in Iron Hill Park, located at 1337 Old Baltimore Pike, just after 10. a.m. Friday. Officials from the Fire Marshal's office said two men in a newer model, dark gray Honda intentionally detonated an unknown explosive device and then fled the scene.

No one was hurt, and the park wasn't damaged, the state Fire Marshal said.

Deputies have recovered the explosive device and tracking down leads.

Manufacturing, possession, and/or use of an illegal explosive device in the State of Delaware is a felony crime.

Anyone with any information pertaining to this incident is asked to contact the Delaware State Fire Marshal's--New Castle Division at 302.323.5375 or Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333. Callers do not have to reveal their identity.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.




Rehoboth Beach officials defend police actions, say gay community wasn't targeted

By DJ McAneny/Joe Irizarry 11:13am, May 29, 2015 - Updated 11:42am, May 29, 2015
Rehoboth Beach officials are defending the city against claims it has taken an unfriendly stance against the gay community and specifically targeted them with a new noise ordinance.

"It had nothing to do--the noise ordinance--with a gay issue at all," Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks told Joe Irizarry, of WDEL's sister station WXDE. "No group was targeted. You know, quite honestly it saddens me that that issue has come about--saying it's a gay issue, (that) somebody was targeted."

The day after Memorial Day, there was an outcry from members and supporters of the gay community, who had utilized Rehoboth Beach over the holiday weekend. In an email, that was formulated and then signed and sent individually by dozens in the movement, the community collectively claimed gay visitors had been targeted unfairly by police under the new ordinance.

Addressed to Mayor Sam Cooper, City Manager Sharon Lynn, and city commissioners, the letter, in part, alleged "several incidents this Memorial Day weekend of overly aggressive policing, arbitrary noise complaints, and what appears to be selective law enforcement on the beach unfairly targeted toward the gay community."

The letter said that, though the gay community has loved Rehoboth Beach "for years," and has "co-existed with Rehoboth residents and vacationing families," this year, police seemed not only to respond to an abundance of noise complaints the letter claimed were unfounded, but that there were no repercussions for falsely-made reports from those targeting them.

City Manager Sharon Lynn said she supported the actions of the city's department, stating the calls had been valid and the department was even thanked by other beach-goers.

"I feel very confident that our PD was actually doing their job," she said. "They weren't targeting anyone. They were being reactive, answering calls to the areas that were of concern. And then the next round of calls were actually from folks who had been at the beach, and they were thanking us."

Lynn did not detail whether the calls of thanks were from the same people filing noise complaints.

Quiet hours established by the new noise ordinance stretch from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., but in the letter sent to Rehoboth Beach officials, gay community members said they were harassed even while following the rules, particularly on Saturday when police, allegedly outside of their jurisdiction, moved into an area en masse to issue citations.

"Law-abiding vacationers are treated like criminals for grilling burgers in their backyards or talking at a reasonable volume on their patios prior to quiet hours," the letter read. "More concerning, on Saturday, May 23, the police swarmed the gay beach at the end of Queen Street, conducting arbitrary searches and writing citations, in some cases apparently outside of the Rehoboth Beach jurisdiction."

Supporters said the "woefully undertrained" police force made them feel "targeted."

Banks stood behind the work of his department, said any actions taken by officers were legitimate, and said he and Lynn not only want to dispel the belief that they would be so ignorant, but would like to hold council with any who feels they were unfairly targeted.

"I'm willing to go to talk to any group, to any public, where ever that may be," Banks said. "The city manager's offered... to sit there and try and explain our side--get the word out that, again, we're not targeting anyone. We were there for a legitimate complaint."




Man injured while mountain biking in Newark

By DJ McAneny 3:47pm, May 29, 2015
A 41-year-old mountain biker in Newark was transported by helicopter to the hospital in serious condition after being injured Friday during a collision, according to New Castle County Paramedics.

Authorities said the man was involved in a collision at approximately 12:17 p.m. in the 100 block of Smith Mill Road.

The man had been mountain biking in a park in the area, fallen from his ride, and suffered injuries to his upper extremities, chest and back, authorities said.

He was taken by Delaware State Police helicopter to Christiana Hospital in serious condition.


Newark man arrested in connection to grabbing female jogger in Rittenhouse Park

By DJ McAneny 11:50am, May 29, 2015 - Updated 5:05pm, May 29, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
A 39-year-old Newark man has been arrested in connection to an incident in which a woman was grabbed while jogging in Rittenhouse Park.

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, a woman jogging through the park at approximately 8 a.m. was grabbed and held from behind by a man standing near the trail, according to police.

On Friday, police announced they arrested Carlos Morciego on charges of offensive touching. A detective with Newark Police received a tip from a coworker of Morciego's who believed the man might be the suspect in the case.

Police said the suspect works at a Marcus Court business near where the incident occurred, and the tipster provided "information linking Morciego to the crime on the day of the incident."

Police took Morciego into custody without incident, and he was arraigned and released on $100 unsecured bond.




Newark man and Claymont business owner charged with dealing in synthetic drugs

By DJ McAneny 10:06am, May 30, 2015
Nipesh Patel/Courtesy New Castle County Police
A 40-year-old man was taken into custody Wednesday and charged in connection to the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana out of his tobacco store, New Castle County Police announced Friday.

According to authorities, Nipesh Patel, of the 100 block of Trout Stream Drive, had a search warrant executed on his business, Deep World Tobacco Store along West Ridge Road in Claymont, on Tuesday.

A combination of forces from the New Castle County Mobile Enforcement Team-North (MET North), MET-West, and the Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE), executed a search warrant on Patel's business and took possession of 450 bags of synthetic marijuana totaling 1,854 grams, 3,770 gel caps, and $4,882 in suspected drug proceeds.

Patel was arrested Wednesday and charged with three counts possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and three counts possession of a controlled substance-Tier 5 quantity.

He was committed to the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in lieu of $360,000 bond.




FireEye CEO, outgoing UD Prez speak to 2015 grads at spring commencement

By Frank Gerace 2:54pm, May 30, 2015
The CEO of a cybersecurity company and UD's outgoing president sent the University's newest graduates out into the world Saturday with expressions of gratitude at the University's 166th annual spring commencement.

FireEye CEO David DeWalt, a 1986 UD computer science grad, looked back on his days as a student in Newark, saying his experience helped get him to where he is now professionally.

"You know, and I came here, and it just changed my life forever, and I feel like this university has had such a lot to do with everything that's happened in my life," said De Walt.

De Walt also challenged 2015's grads with a quote from Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech.

"If you can see it, you can be it..if you can dream it, you can achieve it..can you guys see it? can you be it?" said De Walt.

University president Patrick Harker acknowledged the influence the UD community has had on him during his tenure at the school.

"Serving as the president of this amazing university has been a highlight of my career and my life," said Harker.

He choked up a bit while expressing his thanks for the University community's support.

"By your scholarship, your service, and your friendship, you have inspired me in profound and innumerable ways....I am, and always will be, a proud Blue Hen," said Harker.

Harker took over as university president in 2007, and is leaving to take the helm at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.


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