400+ arrests, 32K bags of heroin seized in Holyoke’s “Operation Full Throttle III”

Mug shots of suspects arrested in "Operation Full Throttle III" lined the wall of a room at Holyoke Police Department headquarters for a July 6, 2017 news conference.

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – More than 400 arrests were made, and 32,000 bags of heroin were taken off the streets as part of a month-long anti-crime push in Holyoke called “Operation Full Throttle III.”

“This is us on full throttle but we’re always out there, David Pratt, Holyoke’s Police Captain told 22News. “We’ve got the throttle going all the time.”

With mug shots of hundreds of suspects in the background, Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger held a news conference late Thursday morning to discuss the result of the operation, which was conducted between May 31 and June 29.

“Most of them are addicts,” Neiswanger said. “I’m not saying all of them are but most of them are addicts so when people donate to them, maybe some of that money goes to food but most of it goes to feed their addiction.”

Neiswanger said that he is extremely proud of the work that his officers did in the effort, which targeted drug trafficking in the city, as well as known high-crime areas.

City officers and detectives worked alongside law enforcement from a variety of state, federal, and local agencies- including Massachusetts State Police, the DEA, and the FBI Western Massachusetts Anti-Gang Task Force, among others.

Alleged drug dealers back on street hours after arrest

Mayor of Holyoke, Alex Morse said, “I want the residents of Holyoke to know that we will continue fighting drugs and violence and getting drugs off of our streets to make sure all of our residents, no matter what neighborhood they live in, can live safely.”

More than 300 of the arrests were targeted by the department’s narcotics division, while other arrests came as a result of patrols and other operations in high-crime areas.

“That’s truly an outstanding number,” Neiswanger said. “It couldn’t be done without the men and women of the police department and our partners, and I’ll put their work up against anyone. They produced, they brought in a lot of people, and they made our city safer.”

In total, the chief says that police recovered:

  • 32,000 bags of heroin
  • 555 bags of crack cocaine
  • 10 illegal guns

Neiswanger added that one of the weapons recovered was a sawed-off shotgun that had been used in the robbery of the Family Market on North Bridge Street on June 13.

During that robbery, the weapon was fired. The chief says the suspect was arrested a short time after the hold-up by officers participating in the operation, and a police dog was used to track down the weapon.

Among the others arrested, 95 were arrested on warrants, 20 of which were felony warrants, and two of the suspects were fugitives from justice.

This is not the first time that Holyoke has conducted  “Operation Full Throttle,” but this has by far been the most successful.

The first two instances took place in April of 2015 and March of 2016, resulting in more than 400 arrests combined and seizures of thousands of bags of heroin and other drugs, in addition to guns and cash.

Neiswanger says that overall, crime has gone down substantially in Holyoke over the past several years. Since 2010, there has been a 26 percent reduction in the number of crimes that have taken place in the city.

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