For Immediate Release - March 02, 2007

D.A. Blodgett's Drug Task Force Swept Nearly $23 Million Of Cocaine Off Streets In 2006

District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett's Drug Task Force, working with state, local, regional and federal agencies, made 520 arrests and swept 227 kilos of cocaine off the streets of Essex County last year. The estimated street value of the cocaine was $22,700,000.

"The level of cooperation between agencies in exchanging information, sharing equipment and applying for grants has never been higher," said State Police Lt. Kenneth Gill, who oversees the operation of the Essex County Drug Task Force. The task force is comprised of two units which are based in Lynn and Lawrence.

Inter-agency cooperation led to what is believed to be the largest seizure of methamphetamine in Massachusetts last year. The task force, working in conjunction with the DEA and Salisbury Police, conducted a large scale international investigation resulting in the arrests of four people in Lynn and Seabrook, NH, and the seizure of 5 ½ kilos of methamphetamine.

"In order to seize huge quantities of narcotics and bring drug traffickers to justice, each and every law enforcement agency must be working as one," said District Attorney Blodgett. "The citizens of Essex County deserve nothing less than the best from every agency involved, and I'm pleased to say that they're getting it.

"In addition to expressing my appreciation to State Police Colonel Mark Delaney for providing outstanding personnel, I also appreciate the assistance of Lawrence Police Chief John Romero and Lynn Police Chief John Suslak, who have assigned officers to the Drug Task Force, greatly enhancing our ability to put drug traffickers behind bars," said District Attorney Blodgett.

Noted below are a handful of the many cooperative investigations leading to significant arrests, as well as some conducted solely by the Drug Task Force:

  • Spanning 2005-2006, the Drug Task Force conducted a large-scale investigation in conjunction with the DEA, Haverhill Police, Everett Police and the Suffolk County Narcotics Unit. Three defendants were arrested and prosecuted federally. Each pled guilty, and their combined sentences added up to more than 50 years in federal prison.
  • In February, an investigation led by State Police Sgt. Thomas Quin resulted in two arrests and the seizure of 20 kilos of cocaine.
  • In March, as the result of an investigation, the Drug Task Force stopped a van on Route 128 in Lynnfield and discovered 24 kilos of cocaine in a hidden compartment. That same month, working with Postal Inspector Mike McCarron, an individual receiving large quantities of OxyContin through the mail was arrested.
  • In April, the Drug Task Force provided intelligence to the DEA which resulted in the seizure of 10 kilos of cocaine.
  • The next month, the Drug Task Force assisted Customs with an investigation resulting in the arrest of a major marijuana distributor, and the seizure of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana.
  • In August, the Drug Task Force working in cooperation with the DEA, arrested several individuals and seized approximately 143 kilos of cocaine from two tractor trailer trucks in Peabody and Revere.
  • On November 2, members of the Drug Task Force participated in a multi-agency Homeland Security operation in the port of Gloucester. The operation involved the United States Coast Guard, Gloucester, Rockport and Manchester-by-the Sea Police, Massachusetts State Police, the Environmental Police, Essex and Suffolk County Sheriffs Departments, as well as Federal Special Agents from U.S. Customs, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the State Department. The investigation focused on the import and possession of illegal narcotics, and illegal undocumented persons, and violations of the state and federal fisheries laws.
  • As a result of the operation, five people were arrested on controlled substances violations and outstanding arrest warrants. Both Customs and the Coast Guard detained, identified and fingerprinted more than two dozen undocumented individuals.
  • In Haverhill, an investigation conducted with the DEA resulted in the seizure of more than 4,000 Ecstasy pills and 282 grams of heroin.

All told, in 2006 the Drug Task Force working both on individual investigations and operations with other agencies seized 227 kilos of cocaine, one kilo of heroin, 2,903.5 grams of heroin, and 26,284 dosage bags of heroin. The estimated street value of the heroin was one-half million dollars. The task force also seized 1,245 pounds of marijuana, 5,861 Ecstasy pills, 1,891 OxyContin pills, one pound of crystal methamphetamine, and a wide variety of other narcotics. It also took 13 firearms off the streets.

The Task Force includes State Police Lt. Kenneth Gill, Lt. Greg Dern, State Police Sergeants Thomas Quin and William Canty, State Police Troopers Jack Foster, Stephen Gondella, Mark Blanchard, James Bruce, Greg DesFosses, Bruce Reid, Jason Conant, Lynn Police Lt. Daniel Fee, Lynn Police Officers Michael Ferraro and Kenneth Estes, and Lawrence Police Detective Mark Rivet.