EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 29, 2012

Raids net 11 on drug, weapons charges

Lawyers: Defendants all receive government aid money

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — Local police, state troopers and federal agents raided the homes of 11 people wanted on drugs and weapons charges and arrested them yesterday morning.

After complaints by neighbors about drug dealing in the Winter and White street area just north of downtown, Haverhill and state police, along with Boston ATF agents, conducted the operation. Later in Haverhill District Court, lawyers for the people arrested said they all receive some kind of government money due to disabilities.

All of the people arrested were arraigned yesterday in Haverhill court and ordered held on bail amounts ranging from $10,000 to $350,000, court officials said.

Lawyers for the 11 defendants said during bail arguments that their clients receive various forms of government assistance, including disability payments for physical and mental ailments, and that most of them are unemployed. Attorney Timothy Connors, who represented four of the 11 defendants, said his clients all receive some form of SSI.

Attorney Lee Graham, who represented five defendants, said during bail arguments that his clients are collecting either SSI or SSDI.

Investigators said the arrests were the result of a two-month operation focusing on heroin and cocaine sales in the White and Winter street area, where police said drug transactions are common.

The arrests were made about 6 a.m. yesterday, and were conducted simultaneously by several arrest and entry teams who had warrants, police said.

In some cases, officers and agents entered the homes by forcing open doors, police said.

”We have had many calls from residents in that area complaining of increased drug activity,” police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said. “It is hoped that these arrests will enhance the quality of life for the neighborhood.”

Police said the people who were arrested are considered low- to mid-level drug dealers.

Haverhill police were assisted in the roundup by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; federal agents; and state police. Haverhill officers taking part were: Thompson; Lt. Robert Pistone; detectives Andrea Fogarty, Megan Buckley, T. J. Howell, Michael Shinners and Joseph Benedetti; sergeants Dana Burrill and Stephen Doherty; and officers John Little, Brian Bailey and James Cotreau.

Those arrested and the charges they face