More than 50 people were indicted after a three-year investigation into opioid trafficking in the Manhattan area.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in a Topeka news conference announced that 54 people were named in 13 separate grand jury indictments for the distribution of heroin and fentanyl. Henry Clark, Sylvester Calvert, Michael Calvert, James Toliver and Blake Woodard are five of six conspirators alleged to be involved in a drug trafficking organization linked to the 2017 overdose death of a Kansas State University student.

Thirty-five of the defendants have been arrested by law enforcement around Riley County in conjunction with U.S. Marshals and other federal law enforcement. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister says the opioid ring frequently sent people to Chicago to source and bring drugs to Manhattan for distribution — dubbing it “Operation Chicago Connection.”

“It’s one of the largest operations we’ve ever conducted through the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the State of Kansas and certainly one of the largest if not the largest take down we have ever conducted,” says McAllister.

RCPD Director Dennis Butler says their role in the operation began two years ago with a focus on a local group of “chronic criminal offenders.” RCPD and DEA jointly led the investigation, assisted by the Junction City PD, Geary County and Pottawatomie County Sheriffs, KHP, FBI, U.S. Marshals, ATF and Riley County Attorney’s Office.
“The citizens of Manhattan and Riley County owe them a great deal of gratitude for their efforts in making our community more safe and secure,” says Butler.
Butler asked the community to keep the family of the KSU student who overdosed on drugs linked to the opioid ring in their thoughts and prayers “as we continue this investigation to hold these people accountable for his death.”
KMAN will update with more information.

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