By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Neighbors are helping fight the problem of people from northern states coming here to meet drug dealers from Lawrence and Methuen.
Police said a drug dealer from Mattapan was arrested after neighbors of the rural Middle Road area reported he was driving there on different days and stopping briefly to meet other cars.
Police arrested Irving Davila-Diaz, 27, of Mattapan on charges of possession of Class A heroin and Class B cocaine with intent to distribute, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and conspiracy to violate the drugs laws. Two Seabrook men will be summonsed to court on charges of conspiracy to violate the drug laws, police said.
It was the latest in a series of arrests made in parts of Haverhill near highways where people from New Hampshire and Maine arrange to meet dealers, police said.
Officers from Haverhill and other Merrimack Valley communities have been tracking the buyers and sellers.
Although a rural area, Middle Road is about a mile from Interstate 495 — just a brief drive to the highway.
Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said narcotics detectives were in the Amesbury Road area near Middle Road on Tuesday about 6 p.m. looking for a gold Toyota Camry.
Neighbors told police they had seen the Camry on different days driving through the Elliott Street, Kenoza Street, Whittier Road and Middle Road area.
Thompson said the neighbors called the police tip line and left information about the suspicious car that would often pull up to another vehicle for just a few seconds before driving off.
Thompson said detectives in unmarked cars noticed the Camry on Amesbury Road and followed it along several roads before the Camry turned onto Middle Road. There, the detectives saw another vehicle with New Hampshire plates make contact with the Camry for a short period of time.
Thompson said both vehicles were subsequently stopped by police at different locations. The Camry was stopped on Middle Road.
Thompson said Davila-Diaz had small amounts of cocaine and heroin.
“When Diaz was approached, he resisted getting out of his car and struggled with the detective in an effort to conceal the cocaine,” Thompson said.
The other vehicle was stopped at Center Street and Kenoza Street, police said. Thompson said no drugs were found and the two men were not arrested — but they will be summonsed to court.
“After the vehicle was stopped, the occupants spoke to the detective and as a result of that conversation it led to the conspiracy charge,” Thompson said.
“We’ve seen this activity many times before, where the dealers and buyers are in communication with each other and select a spot off the highway to meet,” Thompson said.
“The important thing is this arrest was made as a result of observations by neighbors who reported suspicious activity in their neighborhood.”
Following Davila-Diaz’s arrest, bail was set at $5,000, which he posted, according to the Essex District Attorney’s Office.
At his arraignment on Wednesday in Haverhill District Court, Davila-Diaz pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was represented by defense attorney Kara Andrews. Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo asked that Davila-Diaz be held on $15,000 cash bail. Judge Patricia Dowling maintained the $5,000 bail amount that was previously set. Davila-Diaz must return to court Aug. 29 for pretrial hearing.