PITTSFIELD — Police were told there would be three people in a gray Mazda bringing hundreds of bags of heroin back from Hampden County.
That information led to the arrests of a trio of Berkshire County residents on Monday.
Jeremy Levernoch, 34, of Hinsdale and Brian Whittaker, 32, and Khrystyna Nielson, 24 both of Pittsfield, were arrested after police tailed them from Holyoke back into Pittsfield.
Members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force had received detailed information from a reliable source that the trio was planning to travel to Holyoke to buy about 600 bags of heroin and were likely to return with it to the Berkshires.
Police in Hampden County spotted the suspect vehicle leaving the "Flats" section of Holyoke — notorious for being a very high drug-crime area — onto the Massachusetts Turnpike heading west.
Authorities caught up with the Mazda in Blandford and followed it into Pittsfield, detaining the group after they pulled into a First Street driveway.
Levernoch told police he was giving a ride to the others, but he said he wasn't sure of their full names.
He told police he was being given gas money in exchange for the ride but declined to answer from where they were traveling.
Nielson told police the group had traveled to the Holyoke Mall to purchase sneakers. When a state trooper asked her where the new sneakers were, Nielson said she didn't pick any out nor did they purchase anything else from the mall.
Whittaker also said the group was coming back from the mall.
A search of the vehicle and its occupants recovered about 656 bags of heroin stamped "Trap Queen," secreted inside a headphone case.
"Trap Queen" may be a reference to a 2015 song of the same name by Fetty Wap, which contains the lyrics, "And I get high with my baby/I just left the mall/I'm getting fly with my baby."
Among other evidence, police also found about 20 1 mg clonazapam tablets, one 20mg oxycodone tablet and a small plastic baggie with cocaine inside.
The baggie with the cocaine was found inside the ball cap Whittaker was wearing, the oxycodone tablet was found in Nielson's purse, according to police.
All three pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to possession of heroin with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Whittaker also faces a charge of possession of cocaine, Levernoch and Nielson each have a charge of possession of clonazapam — a Class E drug — and Nielson incurred a charge of possession of oxycodone, a Class B drug.
Judge William Rota set bails for Whittaker and Levernoch at $1,000 each and at $500 for Nielson.
All three are due back in court on Aug. 31 for pretrial hearings.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.