NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police say a major drug bust on Tuesday is a successful example of how they're keeping the pressure on outside criminal elements — and a warning to those considering a return.
"The lion's share of the people we've been dealing with — starting about January and this summer — are outsiders, out-of-town problem people," said Police Director Michael Cozzaglio on Wednesday. "They were from Brooklyn and the Bronx; they came back in."
Three of the eight people arrested during the raid at a Mohawk Forest apartment were from the Bronx, N.Y.; a fifth gave no known address and a sixth was from Springfield. Three were local: Jaycee Bressette, 22, Pownal, Vt., Ronni Hart of Barbour Street and Paul Dugal Jr., a former Florida Mountain resident now living in Mohawk Forest.
Police found 150 grams of crack cocaine, worth about $10,000 on the street, said Cozzaglio, 80 packages of heroin worth about $1,200 and $4,000 in cash.
The police director said the suspects were not unknown to authorities, and two had outstanding warrants. Johnte Smith, 25, and Derrick Witter, 31, of the Bronx were arraigned in Superior Court on Wednesday on counts of assault and battery and intimidation of a witness from earlier this year. Smith was also charged with aggravated rape.
"We put a lot of pressure on our problem people over the summer and the out-of-town people," said Cozzaglio. "Two had outstanding warrants, which also caused them to flee. Subsequently, they had returned and, working with the public, we were able to find out where they were and what they were doing.
"They were back in the business of dealing drugs."
The raid came together very quickly after authorities learned of the alleged dealers' return. North Adams Police, working with sheriff's office and the task force through the district attorney's office, obtained a warrant and moved fast.
"It was well executed and done very efficiently and done very well," said Cozzaglio.
He said the alleged dealers may have been testing to see if the "pressure was off."
"We are not easing off one little bit. This pressure will stay on until we feel there is a difference being made," he said. "This is part of the problem but not the full problem."
Dealers coming from outside the area inevitably need a place to stay or set up operations; that means they need one or more local people's help as well as customers.
"This type of activity has no borders," said the police director, and pulls in people of all ages and backgrounds. He credited local groups working to prevent addiction and aiding current addicts as a critical effort to attacking the problem.
"Let's work with the addicts and remove the drug dealers ... they have no mercy for these people, they are truly criminal and deserve what they get," he said.
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