Williamstown Police Department (WPD) officers seized 38 bags of heroin and over $5000 in cash at the Howard Johnson in Williamstown on Oct. 28. The WPD worked in collaboration with the Berkshire County Drug Task Force to execute a no-knock warrant, issued by a judge which allows officers to enter a property without prior notification of the residents, at the local motel.
According to the criminal complaint that the WPD filed, the heroin was “packed in a manner consistent with street-level distribution” (as quoted in “Heroin bust in Williamstown nets 38 bags,” North Adams Transcript, Nov. 5). Five people are being charged with conspiracy to violate drug laws. Luis Agosto of Springfield, Mass., was arraigned in the Northern Berkshire District Court on charges of possession to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
This incident comes just weeks after a similar seizure in Williamstown. On Sept. 5, WPD seized 280 bags of heroin and $1435 in cash, as well as a loaded handgun after a vehicle chase and foot pursuit on Oblong Road. The seizure led to the arrest of Ernest Harvin of Bronx, N.Y. In this incident, WPD officers became aware of Harvin’s illegal activities after a police informant told officers he had bought heroin off Harvin at meeting places on Oblong Road and the end of Spring Street.
The issue of opioid drug abuse is not new to Berkshire County. Recent increases in opioid addiction in the area led to the foundation of the Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative steering committee. The group was funded with a four-year grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. According to an article in iBerkshires the group has compiled data from the 1990s to today. The trend shows that the number of opioids prescribed in the Berkshires has increased each successive year. Furthermore, the number of overdoses seen in the area has grown by 600 percent since the late 1990s. In general, many addictions start with prescription pills, but because of their high costs, patients turn to heroin pills because they are cheaper (“County Organizations Band Together To Fight Opioid Addiction,” iBerkshires, Sept. 12).
Agosto is being held on a $15,000 cash bail. Records indicate that he was on probation at the time of his arrest.