By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Police said these people picked the wrong place to make a drug deal — a common meeting spot for local dealers and out-of-town buyers.
Police were conducting routine surveillance of the Westgate Plaza area on Monday, watching for people from New Hampshire and Maine who meet up near the highway with Merrimack Valley drug dealers to make a buy. This time it was two men from Hampton who had arranged to meet a Methuen couple, police said.
The two men drew the attention of police by parking their pickup truck and sitting inside it for a long period. When another vehicle pulled up next to them, the meeting in Haverhill was about to end in a bad way.
Police arrested Theodore Plouffe, 49, and Jason Deyo, 38, both of Hampton, and charged them with possession of heroin and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Police said Plouffe is disabled and Deyo is unemployed.
Police also arrested Isabel Reyes, 34, and Jose Rodriguez, 47, both of 161 Merrimack St., Methuen. Both men were charged with trafficking and distribution of heroin, possession to distribute cocaine, and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Reyes was also charged with disguising herself to obstruct justice. Police said Reyes gave them a false name when they arrested her. Police listed both of them as unemployed.
Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said police regularly watch areas just off Interstate 495 where drug buyers from the north are known to meet dealers from the valley. The meeting places change occasionally, forcing police to monitor a variety of locations.
“How it usually works is they come down from the north, make a call and arrange for a meeting spot just off the highway,” Thompson said. “This is why we monitor these locations from time to time.
“What we find is it doesn’t stop, but if the people who are buying and selling drugs hear or see that police are monitoring an area, they’ll pick another spot,’’ he said. “In this instance, it was the Westgate Plaza area, while at other times they get off on Amesbury Road.”
All four of the people arrested Monday were arraigned yesterday in Haverhill District Court.
Judge Patricia Dowling released Plouffe on personal recognizance, but held Deyo after revoking his bail on a 2004 case in which he was charged with speeding, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, possession of a Class A substance and conspiracy to violate the drug laws, court officials said. Their cases were continued to Oct. 30.
Dowling held Rodriguez on $15,000 cash bail. Reyes, who police said had outstanding warrants from Lawrence and Lowell, was also held on $15,000 cash bail. Their cases were continued to Nov. 1.
Thompson said that on Monday, members of the narcotics unit were conducting surveillance in the Westgate Plaza area when just before noon they saw a red pickup truck drive into the parking lot of the CVS at 425 Lowell Ave. Thompson said the truck was parked for several minutes without anyone getting out of it.
“Detectives then observed a second vehicle, a dark colored mini-van, pull up to the pickup truck,” he said. “Detectives watched an exchange take place between the two vehicles, where something was handed from one to the other.”
Det. Michael Shinners followed the pickup truck onto I-495 north before stopping it, police said. Thompson said Shinners arrested Plouffe and Deyo and seized a small bag of heroin.
“They purchased the heroin from the other two,” Thompson said.
Sgt. Dana Burrill and Det. T.J. Howell stopped the blue van inside the parking lot of the CVS after it had pulled out of the space, Thompson said.
Detectives seized about 20 grams of heroin and about three grams of cocaine with a total street value of about $1,600, Thompson said. Police also seized various drug paraphernalia and $77 in cash.