Middletown police detective John Stuart was named the 2019 Crime Stoppers Officer of the Year for a mid-sized agency.

Earlier this year, more than 1 million doses of heroin were taken off the streets and the Middletown officer who led the case was recognized for it.

Middletown police detective John Stuart was named the 2019 Delaware Crime Stoppers mid-sized agency Officer of the Year for his lead on what authorities called the largest drug seizure in state history.

“There’s a lot of people within the department who are very deserving of the award,” Stuart said. “For me to be mentioned and ultimately be the recipient of the award, it made me feel very good, proud and happy.”

Every police department in the state could nominate one officer for outstanding service in combating crime. Chief Robert Kracyla said Stuart’s involvement with the large drug bust in August made him deserving of the recognition. 

“We are certainly proud of detective Stuart and the work he has done,” Kracyla said. “It’s an incredible honor for the town and for us as a police department.”

Stuart led a three-month multi-agency investigation that seized 10 kg. of heroin, 3 kg. of cocaine, 14,000 fake pills, $28,000 in cash and a quantity of other pills that were not identified.

During a press conference in August, authorities said the street value of the drugs seized exceeded $1 million, with the raw heroin potentially accounting for 1.4 million doses.

“This would not have just affected the Middletown community, but the entire region,” Kracyla said. “We know he saved a lot of lives with this investigation.”

Stuart said many of the pills taken during the investigation were fake Oxycodone pills laced with Fentanyl, which is the cause of many overdose deaths. 

“When you are dealing with drug dealers there’s no standard of conduct,” Stuart said. “You really don’t know what you’re getting.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent, making the possibility of overdose more likely, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Robert Mooney, executive director for Delaware Crime Stoppers, said Stuart’s outstanding performance in the drug seizure helped save countless lives from overdose, which made him stand out over the other four nominees in his category. 

Crime Stoppers presented the award to Stuart Dec. 10 along with Delaware State Police officer Cpl. Dennis Shields for the large agency award and Milton Police Department officer Brayan Chavez-Rivera for the small agency award.

Mooney said it was a significant win for Milton police and Chavez-Rivera’s fluency in Spanish was critical in the investigation he was nominated for.

Delaware Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit that retrieves anonymous information through secured tip lines and online to help prevent and crime in communities and schools.

The case involved local, state and county agencies including members from Middletown, Newark, New Castle County, Wilmington, Newport, and the University of Delaware police departments. Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, Delaware State Police, Maryland State Police and Delaware Probation and Parole were also involved. 

“It was a collaborative effort with everybody involved,” Stuart said. “It’s not just one person doing the investigation. You always operate as a team.”

Stuart cannot be pictured to protect his identity.