‘Operation Open Air’ leaves 42 arrested in Holyoke on drug, firearm charges

  • FILE PHOTO  FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/26/2019 12:53:55 PM

HOLYOKE — Authorities have arrested 42 people on drug and firearm charges in the city as part of “Operation Open Air,” a month-long effort between federal, state and local law enforcement that focused on targeting opioid distribution. 

The enforcement took place in October and resulted in 17 people being charged with federal drug offenses as well as 25 arrested on state firearms and drug charges, according to a statement released by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. A majority of the arrests came from “sweeps” of the city that targeted people distributing opioids in open, public spaces.

“These defendants sold heroin and fentanyl so they could profit from a crisis that is killing about 2,000 Massachusetts residents a year,” United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling in a statement. “During this operation, law enforcement targeted and dismantled illegal drug markets operating in plain sight.”

Those facing federal charges range in age from 18 to 50 years old and were primarily arrested for conspiracy to distribute drugs, and heroin and cocaine distribution and possession charges.

According to the statement, the FBI’s Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force and the Holyoke Police Department provided assistance with the operation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd Newhouse, Neil Desroches, Christopher Morgan, and Catherine Curley are prosecuting the cases.

A federal drug distribution charge could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a $1 million fine. A charge of conspiracy to distribute can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. 

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com. 

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