Search of District agency nets major arrest

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Fentanyl is deadlier than heroin. Image source: Google Images.
The District of Columbia’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) headquarters had Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents executed a search warrant Tuesday, according to DCRA officials.
While having the agents within city property could be a negative, D.C. Deputy Mayor Lucinda Babers, who oversees the DCRA, said in a statement the search was geared to an employee’s workstation, and not any agency operations.

Neither the deputy mayor nor the law enforcement agency identified the employee. However, the employee has been placed on administrative leave.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson also produces a statement identifying he had been made aware the FBI would be visiting the city agency. And DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah has made no comment. Requests for further information have gone unanswered, and the director’s spokesman referred questions to the mayor’s office.

DCRA is no stranger to such unique actions. In fact, federal officials have prosecuted DCRA employees in the past for largely bribery cases. 

DCRA’s primary focus is housing code enforcement and occupational licensing. This significant component puts some staffers in constant touch all development projects and businesses in the District.

In more recent times, DCRA has been under scrutiny for not taking action on an illegal rooming house where a man and a 9-year-old boy died in an Aug. 18 fire. A D.C. police officer reported dangerous conditions at the house to the DCRA in March 2019.

It has later been determined the employee is Darrell Pope, a program support specialist at DCRA, and the search was due to Pope selling fentanyl outside the building, according to prosecutors in federal court in Alexandria.

He was arrested after being placed on leave, and made his first appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Pope is a Clinton, Maryland resident, works in D.C., and Md., and is involved with drug dealers based in Woodbridge, Virginia. He was detained and searched outside of DCRA, where officers found 30 grams of what is believed to be fentanyl. Later, his home was searched where an ounce of fentanyl, three firearms and a scale was discovered.

This all came to the knowledge of Prince William County officers when a confidential informant told them the CI drove customers from Virginia to D.C. to buy heroin from Pope. Police and the FBI then engaged in nine controlled buys of fentanyl, or fentanyl and heroin (totaling 87 grams) from him right outside the building.

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