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February 8, 2014

Regional heroin raid nets 30 arrests

With heroin overdoses on the increase regionally, local and state police teamed up for a sweeping drug investigation in Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill on Thursday afternoon and evening.

The raid spanned eight hours and included detectives from Methuen, Lawrence, North Andover, Andover, Haverhill, Salem, N.H., Massachusetts state police, the FBI and Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

Police, who broke up into four teams, made 30 arrests in the sweep, which started just after 1 p.m. Thursday in Lawrence.

There’s been an uptick in heroin overdoses recently, possibly caused by a tainted or especially potent supply of the illegal drug in the region.

Overdoses were reported in Haverhill, Methuen, Salem, N.H., Portsmouth, N.H. A man died of a heroin overdose in Gloucester on Wednesday night.

A 20-year-old Haverhill woman who overdosed in Salem, N.H. remains in critical condition at the Boston hospital. In connection with the woman’s overdose, Salem, N.H. police charged Jeffrey Pickett, 22, of 12 Ticklefancy Lane, with a felony heroin possession charge and a misdemeanor heroin charge.

Area police chiefs met a week ago to discuss the overdose problem and arranged for the joint raid in response. Local police are working with the Massachusetts State Police, through its fusion center, to better track the overdoses, said Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon.

Methuen police saw a spike in heroin overdoses in November, Solomon said.

In one investigation Thursday, police followed a car driven by Carl Saccoccio, 22, of Somerville, into a Lawrence gas station. Saccoccio parked his car briefly, according to detectives, and then picked up a male passenger.

The two drove to Lawrence Street and parked, as the passenger got out of the car. Detectives then saw Saccoccio raise a plastic bag to his mouth and bite off the end, according to a report by Lawrence Detective Shaun McLellan.

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