Lawrence Man Indicted in Connection with Major Drug Trafficking Operation
Authorities Seized Approximately One Kilogram Each of Heroin and Fentanyl
SALEM – A Lawrence man has been indicted in connection with a major drug trafficking operation in which authorities seized approximately a kilogram each of heroin and fentanyl, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Jose C. Casellas, age 37, of Lawrence, was indicted on Monday by an Essex Grand Jury on the charges of Trafficking Heroin over 200 Grams (Habitual Offender), Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl (Habitual Offender), Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (3 counts), and Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number. He will be arraigned in Essex Superior Court at a later date.
“We allege that this defendant was a major player in an extensive heroin and fentanyl distribution operation,” said AG Healey. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to tackle the heroin and prescription drug epidemic from all angles, including getting these lethal drugs off of our streets and out of the hands of those struggling with addiction.”
Casellas was arrested in June in a joint operation involving Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Transportation Drug Unit (TDU), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Lawrence, Andover, and Methuen Police Departments.
“This investigation was a prime example of how state, local and federal law enforcement agencies can work together to make a city and a geographic area a safer place for people to live, work and raise their families,” said Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “This showed how, working together, we are able to dismantle high-volume drug organizations around the state.”
In June, authorities from the State Police TDU began an investigation into an alleged drug trafficking operation in the Lawrence area that they believed was responsible for distributing heroin to Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Authorities arrested Casellas in Andover and a search warrant was executed at a Lawrence residence out of which authorities allege he ran his operation. At the time of arrest, authorities seized approximately one kilogram each of heroin and fentanyl, more than eleven kilograms in cutting agent, three guns, kilo presses, digital scales, and other packaging and distribution materials at the residence.
These charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In the continuing fight to combat heroin and opioid overdoses and deaths, Attorney General Maura Healey last month joined with House Judiciary Chairman John Fernandes (D-Milford), the mother of an overdose victim, law enforcement partners and legislative co-sponsors to file legislation that would establish the state crime of fentanyl trafficking. Last week, the AG urged the Judiciary Committee to advance that legislation.
Shortly before taking office, AG Healey announced the formation of an internal task force to aggressively combat the heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis in Massachusetts. AG Healey has vowed to use a multi-faceted approach to educate prescribers, pursue illegal drug traffickers and pill mills, and expand access to recovery and treatment programs in order to address this public health crisis.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Megan Williams of AG Healey’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, with assistance from State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Transportation Drug Unit (TDU), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Lawrence, Andover and Methuen Police Departments and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.