EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 17, 2014

Increase in heroin use brings sales near highway

Police: Pattern leads to series of arrests

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — An increase in heroin use in Haverhill has resulted in several arrests of both dealers and users, police said.

Police said factors for the rise in heroin use include the high price of narcotics such as Oxycontin and Oxycodone, coupled with a tight supply. That is leading some addicts to switch to heroin, which offers high supplies and relatively low prices, police said.

Police arrested several people last week, including a Lawrence man who was meeting up with his customers to sell them heroin in areas of Haverhill just off the highway.

Police said one of the man’s favorite spots to meet was Hunters Run Place, a quiet condominium complex off Lowell Avenue. The complex is just around the corner from Westgate Plaza and close to Exit 49 of Interstate 495. The man was arrested there last Tuesday afternoon and charged with selling heroin to a buyer.

Police said the man he also sold drugs last week to a customer he met on rural Whittier Road, not far from Exit 52 off I-495.

Police charged Reynaldo Roman, 34, of 105 Jackson St., Unit 61, Lawrence, with two counts of distributing a Class A drug (subsequent offense), possession to distribute a Class A drug (subsequent offense), conspiracy to violate the drug laws and failure to stop for police.

Roman was arraigned on the charges in Haverhill District Court, where Judge Patricia Dowling ordered him held on $50,000 cash bail. The judge also issued Roman a 60-day warning, meaning if he is charged with another offense while his case is pending, he could be ordered held up to 60 days without bail.

Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson called it a case of a drug dealer arranging to meet his customers in areas of Haverhill close to the highway, a pattern Haverhill police have seen repeatedly.

According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, detectives learned of Roman’s activities through a “participating witness” who they arrested on Feb. 6 after observing a “hand to hand” drug transaction on Whittier Road, which is off Route 110 and a short distance from Exit 52 of I-495.

According to the report, the witness agreed to buy heroin from Roman, who drove a dark-colored Mitsubishi SUV and also sold drugs at Hunters Run Place off Lowell Avenue.

On Tuesday, police arranged for the witness to contact Roman to buy four bags of heroin, to be delivered to the condo complex. Police said they provided the witness with $200. According to the police report, detectives witnessed a transaction where the buyer handed Roman $200 in exchange for four bags of heroin.

Police said they stopped Roman, although he tried to back up and drive away, and they seized $200 cash and 14 bags of a substance believed to be heroin, with a total weight of 17.9 grams and a street value of about $900. The police report indicated that in April of 2007, Roman was arraigned in Woburn District Court for distribution of Class B cocaine and later found guilty.

In another case, Thompson said officers were working a patrol on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Target store off Broadway when they saw a man and a woman acting suspiciously. They were subsequently identified as Noah Reynolds, 27, and his wife, Laura MacLeod, 20, both of Bedford, Mass.

Thompson said two officers were working the patrol under a grant that police received late last year for additional policing of crime hot spots.

He said the officers saw MacLeod’s SUV pull into the lot and wait. Then they saw Reynolds pull up in another SUV, he said. Reynolds got out and began looking around, then got into MacLeod’s SUV, he said.

When officers approached the vehicle, MacLeod tried to hide items in her lap, which turned out to be a syringe and a powdery substance determined to be heroin, police said. Thompson said the investigation revealed that Reynolds had just bought the heroin for himself and his wife.

“This is what police in the area are finding,” Thompson said. “People come into Haverhill, or are coming down the highway then make a phone call to a supplier, who directs them to a parking lot.”

Thompson said many of the addicts police encounter are spending $200 to $300 a day on their habit, while some are spending more. He said the typical addict uses an average of five to six grams of heroin a day, at a cost of about $50 per gram.

“We’ve arrested people doing petty crimes like shoplifting to try to support their habit,” Thompson said. “But it could be anything, including armed robbery and breaking into cars at night.

“They’re doing a lot of crimes to support their habit,” he said.

In yet another case, last Tuesday at 9:10 p.m., police responded to the Best Western motel at 401 Lowell Ave. for a well-being check on several children seen living there.

Thompson said officers encountered three adults along with three children in the room. One of the adults gave officers a false name, Thompson said.

Police identified the man as Justin Noyes, 35, of 21 Atwood Road, and found that he had a warrant from Haverhill District Court for breaking and entering in the daytime. Police arrested Noyes, who was in possession of three syringes and a small bag of brown powder beloved to be heroin.

Thompson said the other two adults will be summonsed to court for being present where heroin is kept. He said the Department of Children and Families was notified about the children.