WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – A city man whose activities served as a catalyst – at least – for the seizure last month of about 118 pounds of marijuana and more than $1.1 million in cash was himself arrested Friday morning on what may be unrelated narcotics charges.
City police have stated that an investigation into alleged narcotics trafficking by Dennis Leo Blair, 38, of 19 Shepard St., began more than a year ago and the city officers received assistance from the Eastern Hampden County Narcotics Task Force.
City detectives, assisted by officers from the task force and representatives of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, made their move early in the morning of Friday, Oct. 17, when officers followed Blair as he drove away from his home.
Not only were they armed with a warrant, they also knew that Blair’s license to drive had been suspended so they were able to stop and arrest him at their leisure.
With Blair in custody, the officers continued to a self-storage facility on Springfield Road in Agawam where he was known to rent a unit and a warrant was executed.
While officers were on the scene at the storage business, a vehicle drove in but immediately left at a high rate of speed, presumably after the operator saw the officers in the storage yard.
Officers gave chase to the fleeing vehicle and caught up to it in Suffield, Conn., after the operator had abandoned the car and fled.
The officers were able to determine who owned the car and a cross-check at the storage company revealed that the owner of the car also rented a storage locker there.
The K-9 team from Southwick was asked to assist and Officer Tom Krutka and his partner, ‘Jax’, responded.
Jax immediately found something of interest and city detectives secured the storage locker while other members of the task force sought a warrant.
With a warrant in hand, the locker was opened and large amounts of marijuana and money were found.
“It was amazing” one participant said later, “it (the contraband) was all over the place in hockey bags.”
The contraband was transported to the Agawam police station where it was inventoried.
The money reportedly totaled $1.17 million and the marijuana was found to be “118 pounds of high quality marijuana with an estimated street value of $384,000.”
Officers apparently have not been able to connect Blair with the suspect who fled and they may not, in fact, have any connection.
At least one officer has speculated that the missing man’s appearance at the storage facility may have been prompted by the telephone call Blair made when he was booked on the motor vehicle charge. Blair’s arrest Friday morning was based on what was found in his home and storage unit when the original warrant was executed that day.
Det. James Renaudette reports that when Blair’s home was searched, contraband found included five individually wrapped bags of marijuana, small amounts of crack cocaine, packaging material for both marijuana and cocaine and “3 used, gallon-size Zip-loc bags that contained a green-leafy matter.”
In the storage locker, Renaudette reports, officers found marijuana growing equipment and chemicals, more packaging materials, scales with traces of cocaine, three marijuana pipes and three bags of marijuana. Also in the storage unit was a Cadillac Escalade and two cellphones.
Renaudette found that Blair had been convicted, in Hampden Superior Court in 2012, of possession with intent to distribute both Class B (cocaine) and Class D (marijuana) substances.
Renaudette noted that Blair has a history of defaulting on court appearances so a warrant was sought and received.
On Friday morning officer Francis Gaulin spotted Blair travelling as a passenger in a vehicle which was stopped and Blair was arrested.
Arraigned in Westfield District Court later in the day, Judge Philip A. Contant set bail at $10,000 after he was arraigned on charges of possession of a Class B drug with intent to distribute and possession of a Class D drug with intent to distribute. Both infractions were charged as subsequent offenses.
In setting bail, Contant noted that Blair “has (an) extensive record of convictions/incarcerations (which) go back to 1994” and that he has “at least 8 prior appearance defaults.”
Media Credit: The Westfield News