In North Adams, police arrest 9 on drug charges


NORTH ADAMS -- Nine people were nabbed in a drug bust in North Adams on Tuesday afternoon.

The arrests all took place in a single residence at the Mohawk Forest apartment complex. A search of the premises and those in the room allegedly turned up 150 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of more than $10,000, and 80 bags of heroin with an estimated value of more than $1,000. Approximately $4,000 in cash was also found, said North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio.

The arrests were the culmination of an 11-month investigation that involved the North Adams Police Department, Massachusetts State Police and Berkshire Drug Task Force.

Among those arrested were Derrick Witter, 31, of the Bronx, N.Y., and Johnte "JT" Smith, 25, also of the Bronx, who were wanted on a warrant in connection with an alleged assault and rape on a 40-year-old North Adams woman.

After the bust on Tuesday, Smith and Witter were also hit with felony charges for trafficking cocaine, intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to violate a drug law, and being present where heroin is kept.

Two Bronx residents, Hammad Singleton, 36, and Christopher Gaynor, 27, and Lawrence Desmond, 28, of Brooklyn, all face the same trafficking, distribution, conspiracy and being present where heroin is kept charges.

At least four of the New York City residents were believed to be staying at Mohawk Forest, Cozzaglio said.

"They would come and go," he said.

Carla Robinson, 48, of Springfield; Ronnie Hart, 31, of North Adams; Jaycee Bresette, 22, of North Adams; and Paul Dugal, 51, of North Adams, were charged with being present where heroin is kept, a felony.

All nine were arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on Wednesday. Bresette, Dugal and Hart were released on their own recognizance.

The rest were being held at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction, Cozzaglio said.

A 10th person, who was not identified, has been summoned in connection with the bust, but has not yet been charged, Cozzaglio said.

The investigation began in January after North Adams police were made aware of a "significant narcotics distribution" network, Cozzaglio said. He believes the drug dealers may have left North Adams briefly over the summer after a stepped up campaign against drug dealing by police, and then returned.

Cozzaglio believes the drugs were being picked up in New York City and brought to North Adams for sale.

He called the arrests a "great outcome to a very lengthy investigation."

Cozzaglio said he was happy to "take these people off the streets" and to "help curb this drug addiction problem we have." Drug addiction, he said, is one of the main causes of property crimes in the area.

To reach Nathan Mayberg:,
or (413) 496-6243.


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