- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) - Federal, state and local authorities busted up a major drug dealing ring that sold large amounts of fentanyl and other drugs in the central part of the state, officials announced Thursday.

Authorities arrested nine people and seized more than 5 pounds of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic form of morphine linked to a spike in drug overdoses nationwide. Officials also confiscated more than 4 pounds of the party drug Molly, about 50,000 pills believed to be counterfeit Xanax and about 40 pounds of marijuana, butane hash oil and steroids.

Officers also found about $500,000 in cash while executing search warrants in several towns.

The busts were announced by Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daily and officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Britain police and Wethersfield police.

“We believe that this groundbreaking investigation has identified a major supplier of fentanyl in our state,” Daly said. “This investigation has provided us with an important window into how fentanyl is winding up on our streets.”

Figures compiled by the chief medical examiner’s office show 723 people in Connecticut died last year from overdoses of heroin, cocaine or other drugs. Of those, 415 were heroin-related, while 107 involved heroin and fentanyl. It was unclear if the fentanyl the drug ring was selling was responsible for any deaths.

Authorities charged a New Britain resident, a Bristol resident and a Morris resident with conspiring to distribute more than 14 ounces of fentanyl.

The U.S. attorney’s office said multiple controlled purchases and wiretaps showed the Morris resident bought large amounts of fentanyl from China using the Internet and supplied fentanyl and various prescription pills to the Bristol resident, who in turn supplied drugs to the New Britain resident.

The six other people are accused of being involved in sales of fentanyl and other controlled substances.

The investigation began in December.

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