EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 27, 2013

Police: Raid uncovers drug operation in Haverhill home

Former city worker charged with having steroids, Oxycodone

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — Police say two local men arrested on drug charges used a video surveillance system with multiple outdoor cameras linked to indoor monitors to watch who was coming and going from their home.

During a search of their home, detectives said they noticed heating vents covered in grates that appeared inconsistent with the home’s baseboard heating system. Detectives said they removed the bogus grates and discovered steroids and large amounts of needles in plastic bags.

“The grates appeared to be used to conceal drugs and not for any heating purposes,” police wrote in their report.

Police arrested Daniel Spero, 46, and David Burns, 43, both of 44 Taylor St. on Thursday. Police charged both with possession with intent to distribute Class B Oxycodone, possession with intent to manufacture Class B, and possession with intent to distribute Class E steroids. Burns was additionally charged with possession with intent to distribute Class B cocaine.

According to the mayor’s office, Daniel Spero retired from the city’s Public Works Department in 1998. Details about his retirement will not be available until Monday, officials said. The two men were arraigned on the charges in Haverhill District Court on Friday, where they were released on personal recognizance. Police booking reports listed Daniel Spero as “disabled” and David Burns as “self employed.”

Officials in the clerk’s office at Haverhill District Court said their cases will be moved to Newburyport District Court because of their relationship with local police. They said Daniel Spero is a brother of Haverhill police officer John Spero, who appears in Haverhill District Court as part of his job. They said David Burns, a co-defendant in the case, is their cousin.

Police said a home security system included multiple cameras and a receiving box that relayed images to televisions inside the home. Police said these types of surveillance systems are often used by drug dealers so they can be pre-warned of police or other people arriving at their home and can monitor activity on the exterior of the building.

Police said a search of the home turned up a variety of drugs, including steroids, Percoset (Oxycodone/acetominophen) pills, cocaine, and methamphetamine pills, which police believe were made using a pill press they found in the home. Nearly $4,000 cash was seized as well, including some bills that were marked and used in what police called “controlled buys” from Daniel Spero, according to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court.

During the execution of the search warrant, police also arrested James Spero, 48, of 323 Emerson Ave., Hampstead, N.H. on the charge of disorderly conduct. At his arraignment on Thursday, James Spero pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $150 and ordered to pay a $50 victim witness fee.

Police said James Spero arrived at the house while it was being searched and walked to the back yard, ignoring orders by detectives to stop. Police said James Spero walked to the side of the house, where officers had placed a dog in a kennel for their own safety, then proceeded to open the kennel’s gate, allowing the dog to run around the yard freely. Detectives said they had to suspend their search until the dog could be placed back into the kennel.

Police said another man arrived at the home while they were executing the search warrant. Police arrested Corey McClintic, 29, of 1 Harvest Drive, #112, North Andover on a warrant for larceny form a person over 65 and larceny from a building. McClintic was listed in a police booking reports as “disabled.” James Spero was listed as being employed as a contractor.

About 10 a.m. Thursday, the Haverhill police narcotics unit along with members of the DEA Cross Borders Initiative task force executed a search warrant at 44 Taylor St. Detectives set up surveillance and shortly afterwards observed Daniel Spero drive off in a car. Haverhill police detectives, with the assistance of a state police trooper, subsequently stopped the car and arrested Spero on an outstanding warrant for distribution of Class B narcotics. Police said he was arrested without incident. A search of Spero turned up $460 cash and 11 blue Percoset pills, police said.

According to a police report, detectives went to a rear door of 44 Taylor St. and saw Burns lying on a couch. Burns let police in and told them he lives there with Daniel Spero. A search of Burns turned up a prescription pill bottle containing 26 (30 mg) Percoset pills, a cell phone and a large amount of cash in his pants pocket, police said. An Essex County K-9 team assisted in searching for drugs.

Detectives found several small bags of what they believed was cocaine in Burns’ sleeping area. A safe in the second floor master bedroom contained multiple pill vials containing pills, while a small refrigerator contained an assortment of steroids, police said.

Police said multiple, unfilled paper prescriptions were attached to a cork board in the kitchen. Police searched the basement and found a variety of drugs, including steroid vials on top of a wood stove and a pill press in the common living room area, they said. Police also found an assortment of brown and pink pills they said appeared to be homemade and which matched the color of residue they found on a pill press. Police field tested the pills, which tested positive for methamphetamines, they said. Five small bags of cocaine were found hidden behind a ceiling panel in the basement, police said.

Police said that in addition to the various drugs, they also took $2,599 from Burns. In all, police seized a total of $3,940 during the execution of the search warrant, they said.

Police also seized two cell phones from Burns and one from Daniel Spero.

“Daniel Spero’s cell phone rang constantly while preparing reports,” police wrote in their report.