State Police arrest 8 in Hampden County drug trafficking sweep

By James Pentland

Staff Writer

Published: 03-09-2023 11:35 AM

A State Police task force and partner agencies have arrested eight people in Hampden County on drug trafficking and firearms charges, seizing several kilos of fentanyl and cocaine and more than $100,000 in cash, State Police reported.

Police said the joint operation dismantled a major narcotics trafficking ring. Three Holyoke residents were among those arrested.

The investigation was launched in 2022 by the West Unit of the State Police Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team (CINRET-West). The suppliers were selling heroin, much of which field-tested positive for fentanyl, in the Springfield area.

In total, troopers, officers, and agents seized approximately 9.5 kilograms of suspected cocaine; 2.3 kilograms of a narcotic packaged as heroin — much which was determined to be fentanyl — packed into 111,200 individual small baggies; 28 grams of suspected fentanyl pills; 18 pounds of marijuana; and approximately $104,000 in U.S. currency.

Also seized were six motor vehicles associated with the drug organization operations, and three handguns: a Browning 1911 .380 caliber with ammunition, a loaded SCCY CPX-2, and a loaded Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum.

The State Police CINRET-West unit consists of state troopers and members of the Springfield, Holyoke, Easthampton, Westfield, Ludlow, and Pittsfield police departments, among others.

Arrested were five Springfield residents, ages 29 to 60, along with Holyoke residents Alexander Rodriguez, 33, charged with trafficking heroin, 200 grams or more; trafficking fentanyl; and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; Christopher Bermudez, 29, charged with possession of heroin; and Aneudy Lopez-Santos, 40, charged with trafficking cocaine, 100-200 grams.

The arrests were made between Jan. 27 and Feb. 17.

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“CINRET’s unique mission is to interdict large-scale drug trafficking organizations through long-term, complex investigations,” State Police interim Col. John Mawn Jr. said in a statement. “Dismantling these organizations that import death onto our streets is a priority of the Massachusetts State Police and our partner agencies.”

Police in Massachusetts continue to respond to numerous fatalities caused by opiate overdoses. In 2022, State Police detectives responded to 57 overdoses believed caused by heroin or fentanyl in Hampden County, while Springfield police detectives responded to 487 suspected overdoses in their city, with officers administering the overdose reversal drug Narcan 115 times.

As of Feb. 26, State Police have responded to 79 overdoses across the state in 2023.

In addition to Hampden County prosecutors and police departments, CINRET-West also works closely with district attorneys and police agencies in Hampshire/Franklin, Worcester, and Berkshire counties.