Four men arrested in Easthampton cocaine bust

  • Easthampton Police GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/4/2022 4:40:54 PM
Modified: 3/4/2022 4:40:29 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Four men have been arrested in connection with an alleged Easthampton cocaine distribution ring.

After receiving a number of complaints of suspected “narcotics activity” at 11 Chapman Ave., Easthampton Police detectives launched a formal investigation with the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force into what they determined to be a cocaine distribution operation taking place from an apartment at that address, according to Detective and K-9 Handler Andrew Beaulieu.

Officers from Easthampton and Northampton police departments as well as members of the task force executed the search warrant on Feb. 22 and seized evidence from the property including approximately 56.58 grams of suspected cocaine, several functioning digital scales, suspected drug packaging materials and $849. The renter of the apartment, 55-year-old Ronald A. Gabaree, was identified as the prime suspect, according to Beaulieu. He was arrested on charges of trafficking in cocaine.

Also arrested were Joshua Menard, 28, of Easthampton and Jay Wales, 64, of Hadley on charges of possession of a class B drug (cocaine). James Bushey of Easthampton was arrested on a warrant. All four men were arraigned and pleaded not guitly to the charges in Northampton District Court.

Established in 2013, the Anti-Crime Task Force was developed to help law enforcement agencies identify, investigate and prosecute illegal activity including investigating cases of major drug trafficking, homicide, human trafficking, armed robbery, illegal weapons and theft rings. The task force provided the extra manpower to assist in the Easthampton investigation, said Beaulieu. The task force is comprised of law enforcement from the 47 communities of Hampshire and Franklin counties as well as the town of Athol, State Police, federal law enforcement agencies and assistant district attorneys.

The task force is currently led by State Police Lt. Steven S. Hean, assigned to the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Northwestern District Attorney’s office. Hean works closely with Northwestern Assistant District Attorney and Chief Trial Counsel Jeremy Bucci.

“I credit the work being done to curb illicit drug trafficking in this area to the tireless efforts of the investigators with Northwestern Anti-Crime Task Force,” said Bucci in a statement. “We have more active participation from more cities and towns, and have gotten more police assigned back to us after COVID. That fortified police presence, combined with the stellar leadership provided by Lt. Hean is resulting in greater success in curbing illicit drug trafficking.”

Though everything comes and goes in waves, Beaulieu says that western Massachusetts is seeing an uptick in the prevalence of cocaine and cocaine-related arrests.

In December, the Greenfield Recorder reported that a seven-month investigation closed when members of the task force coordinated the simultaneous execution of several search warrants, seizing an alleged criminal organization’s stash of cocaine and other evidence. Police from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies broke up an alleged cocaine trafficking syndicate that investigators believe distributed between 100 and 200 grams of cocaine a day throughout Franklin and Hampshire counties and the North Quabbin. A dozen people from Greenfield, Deerfield, Montague, Ludlow, Charlemont and West Springfield were arrested in connection with the enterprise.


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