Heroin ring in Redlands shut down by authorities; 15 arrested


The operation began almost a year ago and culminated in a roundup of trafficking suspects in the last few weeks. Police said the heroin drug ring is responsible for almost a dozen deaths.

Kelle Kensey says her daughter, Rikki Calvarese, was a victim of the epidemic. The 24-year-old died from a heroin overdose nearly a year and a half ago.

"After she did [overdose], they actually put her in her own car, moved her right down the street from me, put her in the driver's seat and left her there to die," said Kensey.

Kensey says her daughter is not the only victim of heroin overdose. Not far from her grave, there are other victims. In fact, she says there are eight heroin overdose victims buried in just that section of Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

"This is an epidemic," Kensey said. "This is insane, and parents need to wake up."

It's certainly something that caught the attention of law enforcement. In less than two years, police say 11 people in Redlands and the surrounding communities have died from heroin overdose.

"As a result of that, our team developed a plan and a strategy to be able to investigate that and bring that heroin distribution ring down," said Redlands Police Chief Mark Garcia.

Investigators say, so far, they've seized three pounds of heroin over the past month -that's about 14,000 street doses. They've made 15 arrests, but there are five suspects still at large.

"Our message is simply this: No drug trafficker in this region is beyond the reach of the law," said Andre Birotte, Jr., U.S. attorney for the central district.

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