As the national drug epidemic continues to reach new heights, many cities are seeing an increase in drug-related crime. One such city in the midst of a frightening drug-related crime wave is Haverhill, Massachusetts. Crime isn’t restricted to urban areas—citizens are seeing the effects of the rampant drug problem in their own backyards. Police and investigators have seized thousands of dollars in illicit drugs from Haverhill homes recently, shedding light on what has become a full-blown crisis.
Drug Trafficking In Haverhill
In June 2016, Haverhill deputies charged three people with trafficking cocaine and heroin after confiscating about $12,000 worth of drugs from their apartment on Gilbert Avenue. After local residents gave anonymous tips to the Haverhill police, officers conducted a raid of the apartment with a search warrant. People had reported what they believed was drug dealing in the neighborhood. During the raid, police seized 70 grams of crack cocaine and 120 grams of heroin.
The three people arrested were Charles Ambers-Christian, Lisa Samoisette, and Joseph Samoisette. The police charged them with various crimes, including drug trafficking, conspiracy to violate drug laws, resisting arrest, assault and battery of a police officer, and disorderly conduct. These arrests are an example of the many similar arrests and raids Haverhill police are conducting in an effort to reduce the rate of drug-related crime in the city.
Last year, police arrested and charged six Haverhill residents with drug conspiracy. One of the residents charged, Mara Morillo, plead guilty last month to charges held against her, admitting that she had participated in cocaine and oxycodone distribution to residents in Haverhill and others throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Police seized more than $18,000 from her residence in August 2015.
The other five individuals that the federal grand jury indicted and charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute are also undergoing trials and awaiting sentences. Two others also pled guilty to the charges, Michael Lally of Salem, New Hampshire and Justin Bartimus of Methuen, Massachusetts. Sentencing will commence in the next several weeks. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is leading investigations with assistance from the Haverhill Police Department to prosecute others involved in drug conspiracy in the area.
Violent Gun Activity
Even more worrisome than the large amount of illegal drugs passing through and being distributed throughout Haverhill is the influence on crime these drugs have had. Drug addictions are often related to crimes – either crimes between groups of drug dealers or crimes on civilians to finance an expensive drug addiction. Haverhill residents have seen an increase in robberies, assaults, and violent gun activity in neighborhoods.
In October 2015, Haverhill police made 27 arrests as the culmination of a major drug investigation. With help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, police recognized the need to stop violent gun activity in Haverhill and began the investigation – which is still ongoing. During the latest raid, police seized 15 firearms and plenty of illicit drugs. The firearms included sawed-off shotguns, handguns, and assault rifles. The drugs included:
Charges included drug and firearm trafficking, possession of firearms without a license and with defaced serial numbers, conspiracy to violate drug laws, drug distribution, and distributing heroin in a school zone. With the number of illegal firearms and amount of illicit narcotics found during this investigation, Haverhill residents and people throughout Massachusetts are looking for a solution.
Fighting Against Drug-Related Crime In Haverhill
To stop the rise of drugs and drug-related crime in Haverhill, MA, policymakers must recognize the need to go to the source of the problem. Illicit drug use is nothing new, but the drastic increase in prescription medication and illegal drug abuse across the nation points to an inherent issue in our system. Rehabilitation and detoxification centers advocate the importance of teaching young people about drugs early and spreading awareness of the dangers of drugs such as heroin.
The police chief of Gloucester, MA, Leonard Campanello, advocates that addiction is a disease, and pushes for policymakers to pursue the war on drugs by sending addicts to treatment centers, not jail. This is an important step in the right direction. Chief Campanello stated on Facebook that any addict who walks into the police station and turns in his or her heroin and drug equipment will be taken to a treatment center for detox on the spot—not arrested. Today, this is known as Gloucester’s Angel Program. This promising way to handle the heroin epidemic in Massachusetts points to potential for a brighter future.