WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – City police have announced the conclusion of ‘Operation snow removal’ which has swept narcotics dealers from the city’s streets – or at least temporally interrupted the supply of illicit drugs to some city residents.
Capt. Michael McCabe reported Thursday that as a result of an almost year-long investigation led by the commander of the Eastern Hampden County Narcotics Task Force, Southwick Police Chief David Ricardi, “investigators arrested and charged 27 people for distribution of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, prescription pills and a firearm.”
He reported that as a result of five search warrants executed in the city, “over 500 bags of heroin, 125 grams of crack cocaine, 120 grams of cocaine, 2 ounces of marijuana, 8 marijuana plants, a variety of prescription pills and approximately $17,000 (were) seized.”
Many of the arrests had been deferred, McCabe said, so as not to prematurely alert the targets or jeopardize the undercover officers. He said that, in many cases, arrests were made “on warrants, not on sight, to continue the investigation” and the warrants were not executed until the conclusion of the operation. Eight warrants were executed and eight suspects were arrested by teams of city officers on Thursday. Some warrants had been executed earlier and McCabe explained that “some were done because opportunity knocked.”
The first of the warrants McCabe apparently referred to was executed March 12 when Edwin Rivera, 30, and Vanessa I. Fonseca, 31, were arrested after a motor vehicle stop. Although most heroin used in the city is purchased in Holyoke, police have consistently reported, the duo had reportedly been retailing heroin in the city and had come to the attention of police repeatedly so the undercover officer who purchased heroin from them was in little jeopardy of being singled out as the customer responsible for their arrest. Evidence seized, both at the traffic stop and during the subsequent warrant search at the Russell Road motel where they had been living, included 300 bags of heroin, ten oxycodone pills and more than $1,200 in cash which included pre-recorded bills which had been provided to an undercover officer who had reported purchasing heroin from Rivera. Arraigned in Westfield District Court before Judge Philip Contant, Rivera was held when he did not post the $10,000 cash bail the judge required while Fonseca was released on $2,500 personal surety.
Another warrant executed in advance of the terminal sweep of offenders resulted in a raid on an apartment at Colonial Pine Acres, 50 Southampton Road, on April 8 when residents Luis D. Ortiz, 38, Maria M. Quinones, a.k.a. Maria Ortiz, 41, and Rafael Ramos Jr., 41, were arrested. An undercover officer had reported that all three had sold him cocaine and marijuana and Luis Ortiz had sold him a handgun and ammunition. Seized in the raid were quantities of cocaine and marijuana along with packaging materials, drug paraphernalia and three phones. Officers report that drug dealers often use disposable cellphones for their ‘business’ calls so possession of multiple cellphones is a red flag for them. The three were arraigned in Westfield District Court before judge Rita S. Koenigs on charges of possession and distribution of Class B and D drugs and Luis Ortiz was also charged with firearms offenses. All three were held pending May 7 hearings, Luis Ortiz in lieu of $25,000 cash bail, Ramos in lieu of $20,000 cash bail and Quinones in lieu of $2,000 cash bail.
The next of the warrants resulting from the task force’s investigation yielded a wide variety of prescription pills on April 14 at Security Manor at 47 Broad Street. Officers descended upon the apartment that Monday evening and found a safe. A resident, Robert L. Heroux, 53, provided the combination and the investigating detectives found a wide variety of pills in the several pill bottles stored in the safe. Although the drugs – oxycodone, methadone, amphetamine and clonazepam – had been prescribed for Heroux the detectives found wide discrepancies in the number of pills in the bottles compared to how many would have been there had he been taking the pills as prescribed since the prescriptions were filled. Another resident, Laurie A. Roulliard, 51, was found to be in possession of diazepam, which she had a prescription for, but far more pills were found to be missing that she could account for. A detective reported that a cooperating informant had reported buying diazepam from Heroux, who had no prescription for that drug. Also found in the safe was a wallet which contained $1,645 in cash and a safe deposit box key. Det. Sgt. Stephen K. Dickinson said that, after a search warrant was obtained, the box was opened and found to contain about $13,000 in cash which included pre-recorded banknotes which had been provided to an undercover operative who had purchased pills from Heroux. Roulliard was arrested for possession of a Class C drug with intent to distribute as was Heroux who was also arrested of possession of a Class B drugs with intent to distribute. When they were arraigned in district court, Heroux was held in lieu of $1,500 cash bail while Roulliard was released on $1,500 cash surety.
On Thursday, “Operation snow removal” came to a conclusion with a flurry of arrests. Luis Santiago, 41, of 277 Suffolk St., Holyoke, came to a Springfield Road parking lot after an undercover officer arranged to buy a $100 quantity of crack cocaine from him there and was arrested. Charged with possession of a Class B drug for the crack cocaine he had with him, he was also arrested on the prepared warrant for three charges of distribution of a Class B drug resulting form previous sales to an undercover officer. He was arraigned before Contant Friday and was held in lieu of $5,000 in both cases pending a May 16 hearing.
Also arrested on Thursday were Megan A. Vanveldhuizen, 24, of 83 William, Street, and James M. Aliamo, Jr., 46, who allegedly supplied the cocaine and marijuana she is accused to selling to an undercover officer. In a report filed in district court, Det. Timothy Grady documents surveillance of the undercover officer when he met with Vanveldhuizen to buy both cocaine and marijuana. He reports that, although on two occasions the undercover officer bought marijuana directly from Vanveldhuizen, he documents three instances when the surveillance teams observed the undercover officer drive her to Alaimo’s home at of 25 ½ East Bartlett St. and wait before she returned to the car with the cocaine. That pattern was also followed on one occasion when she allegedly offered, and subsequently sold, hashish to the undercover officer. She was charged with four counts of possession of a Class D drug with intent to distribute and five counts of possession of a Class B drug with intent to distribute. Alaimo was charged with two counts of distribution of a Class B drug (subsequent offenses) and possession of a Class B drug with intent to distribute and thee counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws. He was held in lieu of $5,000 cash bail.
Others arrested as part of the sweep were charged with distribution of drugs after allegedly selling contraband to an undercover officer. Three of those arrested live in Colonial Pine Acres where Luis Ortiz, Maria (Ortiz) Quinones and Rafael Ramos and, in two of those cases, surnames as well as addresses are repeated. Jose J. Ramos, 26, allegedly sold contraband to an undercover officer and was arraigned for distribution of Class B and Class D drugs after his arrest Thursday. Similarly, Jose L. Ortiz, 27, allegedly sold drugs twice to an undercover officer and arranged a third sale. He was arraigned for distribution of Class A and B drugs after he was arrested.
Joseph S. Vazquez, another resident of Colonial Pine Acres, was arrested Thursday and charged with distribution of a Class B drug after allegedly selling to the officer. He, like Jose Ramos, was released on his personal recognizance pending hearings in June. Jose Ortiz posted $200 cash bail and will return to court June 25.
Two other residents were also arrested Thursday, each accused of selling drugs once to an undercover officer. Kenneth R. McCoubrey, 57, of 211 Little River Road, was released on $200 cash bail after his arraignment for distribution of a Class B drug. Jyum Reed, 31, of 9 Morris St., was released on $2,500 cash surety after his arraignment on a charge of distribution of a Class A drug and will also return to court June 25.
One lingering arrest was made on Friday which was related to the task for investigation. A warrant was executed to arrest Todd Skroczky, 47, also of 50 Southampton Road, who was charged with distribution of Class B and Class D drugs and also for conspiracy to violate drug laws. After booking, Skroczky was released on bail from the police station and is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Westfield District Court.
Media Credit: The Westfield News