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Norwalk Officer Awarded For Helping To Take Down Heroin Ring

Norwalk Police Officer Julio Rodriguez received an award for helping to take down the Gutierrez drug trafficking organization as part of Operation Facedown.
Norwalk Police Officer Julio Rodriguez received an award for helping to take down the Gutierrez drug trafficking organization as part of Operation Facedown. Photo Credit: File

NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk Police Officer Julio Rodriguez was recently recognized with a United States Attorney's Award for his work on an investigation into a drug trafficking ring following several overdose deaths.

Operation Facedown was an investigation led by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration involving federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The investigation targeted the Gutierrez drug Trafficking Organization, which police said was responsible for acquiring large quantities of heroin from New York and large quantities of cocaine from New York and Florida. The drugs were then distributed in Fairfield County.

The investigation was launched after several fatal overdoses involving heroin bearing the name "Facedown." The operation involved a number of controlled purchases of narcotics by confidential sources from subjects of the investigation, as well as the use of electronic surveillance of several members of the organization, including Alberto Colberg, Bobby Gutierrez and Kenneth Brickhouse, police said.

In total, Operation Facedown resulted in the arrest of 10 people, and the seizure of kilograms of cocaine, substantial quantities of heroin, five firearms, and more than $200,000, police said. The leader of the organization, Wilfredo Gutierrez, who had continued to direct the operation while incarcerated on state racketeering charges, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to police.

His brother Bobby had taken over the heroin operation and continued his cocaine operation while serving federal supervised release for a prior gun and drug conviction, police said. He was sentenced to 13 years as a result of Operation Facedown.

Brickhouse was another former federal defendant who acquired drugs from the Gutierrez organization, police said. He was sentenced to 10 years on drug conspiracy and firearms charges.

Antonio Freeland and Michael Lundy had traveled to Connecticut from North Carolina to purchase cocaine, heroin and marijuana from Bobby Gutierrez, police said. While in a car driven by Freeland, they engaged officers in a high-speed pursuit on I-95, during which they threw cocaine from the car, according to police. Freeland and Lundy were sentenced to 52 and 19 months in prison, respectively.

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