EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 25, 2013

Salem man charged after police intercept pot delivery

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie

---- — SALEM — A drug suspect’s grandmother unwittingly signed for a package containing 5 pounds of marijuana Wednesday afternoon, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said.

She’s not a suspect, but her grandson, 22-year-old Christopher Walker, is charged with possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute, a felony.

A U.S. Postal Service inspector first noticed the package and determined it was suspicious, Patten said. The name and address of the California sender both turned out to be false.

The inspector brought the package to the police station and Trigger, the department’s drug-detection dog, hit on it, an indication it contained drugs.

Based on that, police sought and received a search warrant for 29 Lowell Road in Cole’s Trailer Park. Walker and his grandmother live in a mobile home there, police said.

Police accompanied the postal inspector to the home for a “controlled delivery,” Patten said.

Walker’s grandmother signed for the package, then detectives moved in to execute the search warrant. In addition to the 5 pounds of marijuana in the package, police found another pound of the drug, bongs, scales, a ledger with recorded drug sales, plastic bags typically used to package the drugs and $236 in cash.

Walker was found at a nearby home and taken into custody.

Police estimated the street value of the marijuana at $10,000.

“It’s a pretty significant amount of marijuana,” Patten said. “With that quantity, I think we can assume he was a significant distributor. It certainly wasn’t for personal or medicinal use.”

But Walker wasn’t in custody for long. Although police thought a higher cash bail was appropriate, Patten said, the bail commissioner set Walker’s bail at $2,500 cash.

“He made some phone calls and came up with the cash within 30 to 45 minutes,” Patten said.

Police wanted bail set higher, enough so Walker would have to work a little harder to come up with it, Patten said, and they could have requested a source of funds hearing.

Under that scenario, a suspect must prove where the bail money comes from.

“Investigators believe bail was posted from proceeds from other drug transactions,” Patten said. “It’s not our job to determine bail. We just felt it should have been high enough so he couldn’t easily come up with it and had a source of funds hearing, so he wasn’t going to get bailed out with more drug money.”

Walker’s arrest isn’t likely to have much of an impact on the local drug trade, Patten said, even given the quantity of drugs seized.

“It will probably have a minimal impact,” he said yesterday. “It’s a good arrest by detectives and the USPS, but to think 6 pounds of marijuana is the bulk of the drug trade in Salem would be foolish on our part.”