By Dave Rogers
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Months of selling heroin inside Cashman Park, the city’s rail trail and other highly public areas finally caught up with two Merrimac residents who were arrested earlier this week and now face numerous drug charges, the culmination of a months-long investigation, according to local police.
Around the same time, another well-known heroin dealer living in Salisbury was arrested by police there after watching him sell heroin inside a CVS Pharmacy parking lot on Beach Road. Earlier in September, the suspect allegedly sold drugs to an undercover Newburyport police officer, according to court records.
Thomas E. Dastous, 30, of 56 East Main St., No. 2, Merrimac; and Katie Sullivan, 27, same address, were arrested Tuesday by Newburyport police in Merrimac and charged with heroin distribution, heroin possession, conspiracy to violate the drug law and selling drugs near a school or park. They were arraigned in Newburyport District Court hours later and are due back in court on Oct. 28 for pretrial hearings. Sullivan is being held on $10,000 cash bail while Dastous is being held on $5,000 cash bail.
“Yesterday was collection day, we went and picked them all up,” Newburyport City Marshal Thomas Howard said yesterday regarding Tuesday’s arrests of Dastous and Sullivan.
Merrimac police assisted in the arrests, Howard added.
In Salisbury, police there arrested 50-year-old Dana Abrahams on Tuesday after observing him sell drugs inside the CVS Pharmacy parking lot on Beach Road. Abrahams was also wanted by Newburyport police for selling drugs in that city. Salisbury police charged Abrahams with heroin distribution and a previous warrant. Newburyport police charged him with heroin possession, heroin distribution and conspiracy to violate drug laws. He was arraigned yesterday at Newburyport District Court and is being held on $10,000 cash bail. He is due back in court Oct. 28 for a pretrial hearing.
Heroin sales have been on the rise in Newburyport and surrounding communities in recent years as police say it has become cheaper and easier to acquire than prescription drugs. As inspectors noticed the uptick in heroin use and sales, they began targeting public areas such as Cashman Park and the rail trail that were becoming well-known by users and dealers as places to conduct business.
“It’s plentiful and more reasonable in price,” Howard said.
A side-effect related to the easy purchase of heroin is the number of housebreaks, car breaks and burglaries committed by addicts looking to fund their habit, Howard added.
In August, an undercover Newburyport police officer arranged to purchase heroin from Dastous and Sullivan, who had already established a reputation as go-to people for heroin. The first of what turned out to be two heroin buys took place on Aug. 16 inside Cashman Park. A Newburyport police officer wearing plainclothes met the suspects and bought a gram of heroin. A second buy was conducted by the same officer on Sept. 3, this time at a Merrimac Dunkin Donuts. This time the officer purchased a 0.6 gram of heroin, according to court records.
In between the two buys, police observed Dastous and Sullivan meet up with a well-known heroin user on the rail trail toward Cashman Park. Police then followed them to a CVS Pharmacy parking lot on Pond Street, where the addict was spotted in their car slumped over. After the user sobered up enough to leave the car, he entered the pharmacy. Dastous and Sullivan then left in the car. The next day, Dastous and Sullivan were spotted with the same heroin user, this time accompanied by his girlfriend, who was also known by police as a frequent heroin user, according to police.
On Sept. 9, the same Newburyport police officer who posed as a buyer earlier conducted a similar sting regarding Abrahams. According to court records, the officer was told by a criminal informant that Abrahams was a good source of heroin and that he was currently living with a friend off High Street in Salisbury.
Once a deal had been arranged, the officer drove up to the High Street address and met Abrahams. After handing the suspect $90 for heroin, the officer drove off.
Court records show that Abrahams has 143 entries in his criminal file including the sale of narcotics, kidnapping, break and entering and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
“Mr. Abrahams has been suspected of selling heroin for some time,” the officer wrote in his report.
Police are continuing their investigation related to Dastous, Sullivan and Abrahams and said additional arrests are possible.
According to Howard, the three arrests won’t result in the stoppage of heroin sales in Newburyport and Salisbury, as the suspects represent only a portion of those involved in the illegal activity.
“It’s a step in the right direction. I think we have a long way to go in the city,” Howard said.