BERLIN — Four men arrested and charged initially with drug distribution and weapons charges in Worcester County last year, including a Berlin man, had their cases forwarded to U.S. District Court this month.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office last Wednesday announced four suspects arrested on drug and gun charges in Worcester last year have had federal criminal charges filed against them, essentially moving their cases from Worcester County Circuit Court to U.S. District Court. The first criminal complaint involving a local case was filed this week against Tony Lamont Mills, 32, of Berlin, who has now been charged in federal court with possession with intent to distribute heroin and possession of a firearm by a felon.

In July, the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team began a heroin distribution investigation and identified Tony Lamont Mills, 32, of Berlin, as a suspect. The investigation revealed Mills was distributing heroin throughout northern Worcester County. As the investigation progressed, an undercover officer was able to conduct hand-to-hand purchases directly from Mills on two separate occasions, including one transaction during which Mills was holding an infant on his chest.

Detectives obtained a search and seizure warrant for Mills’ residence on Elizabeth Street in Berlin. The Criminal Enforcement Team, with assistance from the Berlin Police Department SWAT team executed the search warrant on the Berlin residence earlier this month.

Mills was subsequently apprehended while attempting to hide in a closet. A search revealed 6.8 grams of marijuana and an additional six bags or heroin along with a loaded .32 caliber handgun. The handgun was discovered in the same closet in which Mills attempted to hide. In addition, a total of 28 bags of heroin were found totaling 2.8 grams.

The second criminal complaint filed this week in federal court involving a Worcester County case charges Ramon Diamos, 47, and Arlon Macatangay, 51, both of Jersey City, N.J., and Ricky Ibanga, 38, of Bayonne, N.J., with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of crystal methamphetamine.

According to the statement of facts filed in support of the federal charges against Diamos, Macatangay and Ibanga, the three suspects were pulled over by Maryland State Police in the south end of Worcester for a routine traffic stop. The MSP trooper learned Diamos was wanted on a New Jersey warrant and he was arrested. During the arrest, a small glass pipe and a small amount of crystal meth was discovered in Diamos’ pants pocket.

During a subsequent search of the vehicle, the MSP trooper discovered a manila envelope containing 240 grams of crystal meth and a receipt in Macatangay’s name. As a result, Macatangay and Ibanga were arrested and charged with possession and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines. The three suspects face a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Meanwhile, Mills faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for possession with intent to distribute heroin and up to life in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

 “I applaud the combined efforts of Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police, the Ocean City Police Department, the Berlin Police Department, ATF and HSI for their investigations in these cases,” Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby said last week.