EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

March 28, 2010

Children found in 'heroin den'

Children found living in animal feces, filth

HAVERHILL — Police conducting a raid on a "heroin den" Friday night said they found two young children living in the apartment amidst cat feces, urine and other filth.

Around 7:30 p.m. Friday, Haverhill police raided an apartment on the first floor at 142 Cedar St. to find three people using hypodermic needles to inject heroin.

They also found a 21-month-old girl walking around in living conditions police called "atrocious," and a 4-year-old boy asleep in a bedroom filled with trash. The children were placed into the custody of family members while the Department of Social Services investigates.

"The place was dirty, filthy and just disgusting," police spokesman Sgt. John Arahovites said. "It should be condemned.

"Children living there don't deserve that. Animals have better living conditions."

Joanne Belmer, 30, and Anthony St. Onge, 28, the residents of the apartment, were charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, knowingly being present where heroin is kept, and drug violation in a school zone.

Police said Belmer and St. Onge were selling drugs and had turned the apartment into a "shooting gallery" where customers could ingest and inject heroin.

"They were selling heroin morning, noon and night," Arahovites said. "They would pool their money for four or five customers at a time, go to Lawrence to buy the heroin, then bring it back, and it just kept going."

Police had been investigating the location for the past few months after receiving complaints from multiple sources, including neighbors, calls to the police tip line and by e-mail.

Police said St. Onge also had a parole violation warrant for drug charges and is being held without bail until his arraignment tomorrow in Haverhill District Court. Belmer is being held on $5,000 cash bail pending her arraignment tomorrow.

Three others were arrested for being present where heroin is kept: David Plourde, 26, of 30 Lenamay Way, Salisbury; Eric D. Balsamo, 32, of 50 Rossi St., Methuen; and Tania M. Cormier, 36, of 96 Winter St., Haverhill. Balsamo was also charged with an additional count of possession of heroin, and Cormier had an arrest warrant for motor vehicle charges. All three will be arraigned tomorrow.

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