LAWRENCE — A lone woman sat in the driver’s seat of a black Infiniti sedan, parked at the corner of Ridge Road and Oakwood Avenue at 2 p.m.
Five minutes later — unaware that local, state and federal officers were watching her — a man driving a green Toyota Sienna minivan pulled in front of the Infiniti and parked. The woman got of her car and hopped in the van, spending just 20 seconds inside and then returning to her car.
Police arrested both drivers minutes later after seeing firsthand a “hand to hand street level drug transaction,” according to a report by Lawrence Police Detective Robert LeFebre.
This bust in the city’s Prospect Hill neighborhood last Wednesday, was part of a two-day narcotics sweep involving Lawrence police, state troopers, sheriff’s officers, federal agents and U.S. Marshals. The sweep, conducted during national Red Ribbon Week, resulted in 31 arrests, the majority drug-related, in Lawrence. Heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs were seized along with cash.
During the sweep last Wednesday and Thursday, the officers made undercover narcotics purchases and arrests, served arrest warrants, saturated “known drug areas” and executed three search warrants, according to Lawrence Police Capt. Roy Vasque, commander of the department’s special operations division.
Red Ribbon Week honors slain DEA agent Enrique Camarena who died on Feb. 7, 1985 after he was tortured and murdered while on assignment in Mexico. Camarena, whose nickname was “Kiki,” was a Mexican undercover agent who worked for the DEA.
Vasque, in his report, wrote “Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country” and allows communities to make a commitment to drug prevention, education and “a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of a drug free America.
In the Ridge Road incident, the woman involved, Janine Watson, 34, of Rye, N.H. , tried to hide a bag of cocaine in her crotch and heroin in her shirt, police said. Her alleged dealer, Hector Luis Cruz, had nearly $1,000 in his van and his pockets when arrested by police.