More than 20,000 bags of heroin were found as authorities busted a drug trafficking organization in New England over the past several weeks, making at least three arrests, according to the Hampden District Attorney's Office.
Three "principal members" of the alleged drug ring — said to span western Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont — were arrested: Jonathan Acevedo, 22, of Chicopee; Johnathan Rivera, 29, of Springfield and Jean Carlos Rios-Rivera, 20, of Springfield.
Acevedo, an alleged gang member, had set up a major heroin distribution operation based in a home in a thickly settled residential area in Chicopee while he was out on bail on two different cases and on court-ordered house arrest with GPS monitoring, according to prosecutors.
Acevedo would send large amounts heroin and cocaine via "runners" to other dealers near Chicopee and into Vermont, prosecutors said.
"In addition, Mr. Acevedo sold large amounts of heroin to other heroin dealers who would then sell to their own customers," Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said a news conference Monday.
Investigators identified another location in Chicopee that Acevedo was allegedly using to store narcotics as well.
On Aug. 31, authorities searched both locations and seized 2,800 bags of heroin, 7 grams of cocaine and 56 grams of crack-cocaine.
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Acevedo was arrested on charges of trafficking heroin and possession with intent to distribute class B cocaine. He is being held on $100,000.
Other, "lower level" arrests were made that day but authorities have not yet disclosed who was taken into custody. As part of the investigation, authorities learned that Acevedo received shipments of heroin from Rios-Rivera, prosecutors said.
They searched a Bayone Street residence in Springfield on Sept. 19, finding 22,400 bags of heroin, a Glock 27 handgun and one magazine with eight rounds of .40 caliber ammunition, prosecutors said.
Police arrested Rivera as a result of the search. He was charged with trafficking heroin over 200 grams, possession of a firearm without a license and possession of ammunition without a license.
Rios-Rivera initially fled to Connecticut to avoid arrest but was later taken into custody at a hotel in Windsor Locks, prosecutors said. He is waiting to be brought back to Massachusetts to face a charge of trafficking heroin over 200 grams.
It's unclear when any of the men will appear back in court or had attorneys to answer to the charges.
Gulluni thanked the efforts of local and state police in bringing down the operation and the leader who he deems a dangerous man.
"Mr. Acevedo is a repeat and violent offender. And despite our best efforts ... Mr. Acevedo remained out to continue to sell drugs and to further the crisis that we find ourselves in of addiction and overdose deaths across this region," Gulluni said.