Cops seize 30 pounds of heroin in drug bust

A Lawrence man was ar­rested af­ter cops found $2.2 mil­lion worth of heroin and what’s de­scribed as a “su­per drug,” fen­tanyl. Cops said he ran a mill out of his home.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - NATE HO­MAN @METROBOS nathan.ho­

Mas­sachusetts State Po­lice and lo­cal law en­force­ment seized 30 pounds of heroin and fen­tanyl, worth $2.2 mil­lion on the streets.

Jose Casel­las, 37, was busted on Thurs­day and was ar­raigned in Lawrence Dis­trict Court on Fri­day for two counts of traf­fick­ing heroin, three counts of pos­ses­sion of a firearm with­out a li­cense and pro­vid­ing a fake name at the book­ing.

On Thurs­day, of­fi­cers in An­dover seized ap­prox­i­mately three kilo­grams of heroin and fen­tanyl on Casel­las. Af­ter con­duct­ing a search war­rant of Casel­las’ Lawrence home, of­fi­cers found 15 ki­los of heroin and fen­tanyl, three guns, a kilo press, dig­i­tal scales and other pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial. He is be­ing held on $2 mil­lion cash bail.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Maura Healey said that her of­fice aims to crim­i­nal­ize fen­tanyl traf­fick­ing.

“Fen­tanyl is far more po­tent than heroin,” Healey said. “But there are cur­rently no crim­i­nal charges for traf­fick­ing it.”

Ac­cord­ing to DrugAbuse .gov, fen­tanyl is a pow­er­ful syn­thetic opi­ate that is far more pow­er­ful than mor­phine. It is used to treat se­vere pain. It can be in­jected, ap­plied with a trans­der­mal patch or taken in lozenge form. Mix­ing it with heroin or co­caine in­creases its po­tency.

“It is a su­per drug,” Scott Schaus of the Bos­ton Univer­sity Chem­istry Depart­ment said. “Fen­tanyl mixed with heroin is a pow­er­ful mix of two com­pounds that both bind the opi­oid re­cep­tors in the brain that in­creases the eu­phoric feel­ing.”

Law of­fi­cials worked in a joint task force with the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice, Mas­sachusetts State Po­lice Trans­porta­tion Drug Unit, the DEA, Lawrence, An­dover and Methuen po­lice de­part­ments.

“We usu­ally don’t see seizures like this,” State Po­lice Col. Tim Al­ben said. “This op­er­a­tion with­out a doubt saved the life of some­one who would have over­dosed on this poi­son. Of course we know that users will con­tinue to seek other sources of drugs. We con­tinue to work with so­cial ser­vice agen­cies that pro­vide help to re­duce de­mand, while we con­tinue to ham­mer the sup­ply.”

Al­ben said that the state po­lice counted 114 deaths con­nected to opi­ates in De­cem­ber, but that num­ber is in de­cline, drop­ping to 55 so far in June.

“We’re see­ing early in­di­ca­tions that the deaths are start­ing to go down,” Al­ben said. “But 55 is still too many.”

Casel­las is thought to have a large role in a heroin dis­tri­bu­tion ring be­tween Mas­sachusetts and New Hamp­shire. He is due back in Lawrence Dis­trict Court for a prob­a­ble cause hear­ing on July 22.

“We usu­ally don’t see seizures like this. This op­er­a­tion with­out a doubt saved the life of some­one who would have over­dosed on this poi­son.” Al­ben


State Po­lice Col. Ti­mothy Al­ben ad­dresses the media on the ma­jor drug bust in Lawrence that net­ted 30 pounds of heroin and fen­tanyl, which has an es­ti­mated street value of $2 mil­lion.

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