LAWRENCE — A lone woman sat in the driver’s seat of a black Infiniti sedan, parked at the corner of Ridge Road and Oakwood Avenue at 2 p.m.
Five minutes later — unaware that local, state and federal officers were watching her — a man driving a green Toyota Sienna minivan pulled in front of the Infiniti and parked. The woman got of her car and hopped in the van, spending just 20 seconds inside and then returning to her car.
Police arrested both drivers minutes later after seeing firsthand a “hand to hand street level drug transaction,” according to a report by Lawrence Police Detective Robert LeFebre.
This bust in the city’s Prospect Hill neighborhood last Wednesday, was part of a two-day narcotics sweep involving Lawrence police, state troopers, sheriff’s officers, federal agents and U.S. Marshals. The sweep, conducted during national Red Ribbon Week, resulted in 31 arrests, the majority drug-related, in Lawrence. Heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs were seized along with cash.
During the sweep last Wednesday and Thursday, the officers made undercover narcotics purchases and arrests, served arrest warrants, saturated “known drug areas” and executed three search warrants, according to Lawrence Police Capt. Roy Vasque, commander of the department’s special operations division.
Red Ribbon Week honors slain DEA agent Enrique Camarena who died on Feb. 7, 1985 after he was tortured and murdered while on assignment in Mexico. Camarena, whose nickname was “Kiki,” was a Mexican undercover agent who worked for the DEA.
Vasque, in his report, wrote “Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country” and allows communities to make a commitment to drug prevention, education and “a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of a drug free America.
In the Ridge Road incident, the woman involved, Janine Watson, 34, of Rye, N.H. , tried to hide a bag of cocaine in her crotch and heroin in her shirt, police said. Her alleged dealer, Hector Luis Cruz, had nearly $1,000 in his van and his pockets when arrested by police.
When police went to arrest Cruz, he put something in his mouth. But he refused to tell police what it was.
“However, this type of behavior is common with drug traffickers and buyers alike when attempting to swallow or hide narcotics from law enforcement,” LeFebre wrote. “An unsucessful attempt to recover what Cruz threw in his mouth was made.”
At the police station, Sgt. Maurice Aguiler asked Cruz if he needed medical attention. Cruz declined and said, “I did not swallow any drugs. My life is more important than that.”
The following people were among those arrested on narcotics charges during the Red Ribbon sweep:
Thomas Michael Yorkshaitis, 28, of 85 Bank St., Lebanon, N.H.: illegal possession of heroin, fugitive from justice, Oct. 24, 3:22 p.m., Haverhill and Lawrence streets.
Tony Bumpas, 23, of 31 Salval Ave., Nashua, N.H.; knowingly being present where heroin is kept, Oct. 24, 2 p.m., Lawrence and Haverhill streets.
Samantha Perry, 26, of 855 Hanover St., Manchester, N.H.; illegal possession of heroin and the prescription drug suboxone, driving after license revocation, speeding, making an improper right turn, Oct. 24, 2:05 p.m., Haverhill and Lawrence streets.
Olivo Molina, 18, of 27 Camden St., second floor, Methuen; illegal possession of marijuana, Oct. 24, 7:49 p.m., 71 Boxford St., third floor.
Marisol Garcia, 51, of 71 Boxford St., Lawrence; trafficking heroin, Oct. 24, 7:42 p.m., her home.
Alise Paraskeva, 26, of 177 West Elmwood Drive, Manchester, N.H.; illegal possession of heroin, Oct. 24, 9:49 p.m., 54 Hillside Ave.
Debra Jane Sanborn, 34, 245 Broadway, Lawrence; four outstanding warrants for larceny of property, trespassing, domestic assault and battery and illegal possession of cocaine, Oct. 24, 9:20 p.m., 266 Broadway.
Hector Luis Cruz, 24, of 82 Bennington St., Lawrence; two counts of distribution of cocaine and two counts of distribution of heroin, Oct. 24, 3:18 p.m., Ferry Street and Ridge Road.
Janine Watson, 34, of 562 Washington St., Rye, N.H.; illegal possession of heroin and cocaine, Oct. 24, 3:10 p.m., Ferry Street and Ridge Road.
Joysel Joel Mateo, 18, of 50 Camden St., Boston; illegal possession of crack cocaine and heroin, Oct. 24, 1 p.m., East Haverhill and Vine streets.
Angelica Brook Bellrose, 25, of 322 Webster St., Rockland; illegal possession of heroin, Oct. 24, 1 p.m., Clarke and Sargent streets.
Juan Angel Mejia, 20, of 9 West Gile St., Haverhill; distribution of heroin and outstanding warrants for receiving stolen property, illegal possession of cocaine, breaking and entering in the nighttime to commit a felony, trespassing and driving after license revocation, Oct. 24, 1:54 p.m., Jackson and Essex streets.
Joel Elijio Rodriguez, 34, of 34 Emerson St., Haverhill; illegal possession of Clonopin, disorderly conduct and trespassing, Oct. 24, 3:45 p.m., 234 Hampshire St.
William Holden, 56, of 32 Intervale St., Nashua, N.H.; illegal possession of heroin and knowingly being present where heroin is kept, Oct. 24, 12:51 p.m., Park Street.
Anthony Mendez, 57, of 224 Bailey St., #3, Lawrence; distribution of Percocet, Oct. 25, 6:20 p.m., Philips and Bailey streets.
Robert Lutes, 32, of 394 Emerson Ave., Hampstead, N.H.; illegal possession of the prescription drug Percocet, Oct. 25, 6:21 p.m., Philips and Bailey streets.
David Rodriguez, 30, of 2 Florence St., first floor, Lawrence; illegal possession of heroin, Oct. 25, 1:59 p.m., 2 Florence St.
Christopher Cartier, 23, of 112 River St., #3, Haverhill; illegal possession of cocaine, Oct. 25, 1:09 p.m., 171 Salem St.
Jessica Torres, 29, of 171 Salem St., Lawrence; outstanding warrants for intimidating a witness in a criminal investigation and receiving stolen property, Oct. 25, 12:50 p.m., 171 Salem St.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.