Month-long sweep nets guns, drugs, 156 arrests

This article was published 13 year(s) and 10 month(s) ago.

LYNN – When Lynn police arrested Handy Iraola on a probation violation on Oct. 21, he was carrying a loaded .45-cal. handgun. In addition to the weapons violation, the suspect was charged with receiving stolen property and possession of marijuana.The arrest was merely one of 156 arrested by the regional drug task force during a month-long sweep that netted over 54 kilos of cocaine, 138 grams of heroin and six guns.”The cocaine itself has an ultimate street value of $5.4 million,” said Steven O’Connell, spokesman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.O’Connell said a cadre of law enforcement agencies were responsible for the arrests and drug seizures, the operation focused primarily on Lynn, Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill. According to O’Connell, the sweep was coordinated by State Police Lt. Alan Zani, commander of the Essex County Drug Task Force assigned to the district attorney’s office.Detectives from each of those cities were joined by federal agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ICE and the FBI Gang Unit, along with the State Police Gang Unit and the State Police Troop A Community Action Team.Members of the State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and officials from the Lawrence, Lynn and Haverhill District Court Probation Departments participated in the early to mid-morning raids, when fugitives and suspects were arrested on warrants or probation violations.”We launched this collaborative sweep to target street drug sales in Essex County and to reduce the troubling level of violent crimes being committed in our cities,” said Blodgett. “Where there are drugs, there are firearms and acts of violence. We will vigorously pursue and prosecute dealers who would sell drugs to our children and will continue to work with every local, state and federal agency to ensure the safety of our citizens.”Of the 156 people arrested, 75 were charged with drug distribution or trafficking. Police served 13 search warrants and took six guns off the streets since the raids began on Sept. 28 and concluded on Oct. 30. They also seized five motor vehicles and 4-7 pounds of marijuana.”An important part of the mission of the State Police is the ability to flood targeted areas with large numbers of personnel to assist our local partners and the district attorney,” said Col. Mark E. Delaney, Massachusetts State Police superintendent.Lynn’s acting Police Chief Kevin Coppinger said law enforcement teams were able to identify specific targets that were significantly impacting the quality of life in the city and get them off the streets. “As we have in the past, we plan to continue these collaborative efforts,” he said.Lawrence Police Chief John Romero and Haverhill Police Chief Alan DiNaro offered similar assessments.The arrests touched many North Shore communities. On Oct. 7, Swampscott business owner Christopher Ciarcia of Revere was arrested for allegedly selling OxyContin and marijuana from Lori’s Market, his convenience store at 205 Burrill St. in Swampscott. Since the arrest, Ciarcia has surrended the business’ liquor license and common victualer’s license.Two days later, on Oct. 9 in North Andover, police seized a handgun and 54 kilos of cocaine and arrested seven suspects. The defendants were taken into federal custody and will be prosecuted in U.S. District Court.On Oct. 21, an investigation that spanned Haverhill and southern New Hampshire resulted in the arrests of six defendants on cocaine and weapons charges. The following day, members of the Essex County Drug Task Force, along with Gloucester and Peabody police detectives, arrested Juan Lara, 34, on heroin distribution charges. Lara, a convicted felon who was deported, had re-entered the country illegally, according to O’Connell.

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