Suspect in Pittsfield drug operation caught with heroin in underwear

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PITTSFIELD — A city man accused of running a drug ring out of his apartment is being held without bail after he was caught with up to $7,000 worth of heroin in his underwear, according to police.

Joseph E. Mathews, 29, was arrested during a traffic stop Monday night after he allegedly drove to Connecticut to purchase more drugs, police said.

Mathews was the target of an investigation conducted by city police and the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, which believed he was using a South Street apartment as a "base of operation" for heroin storage, packaging and distribution, according to court files.

The investigation began in mid-February when police received information that Mathews was selling heroin and cocaine. Police then arranged controlled purchases of both heroin and crack cocaine from Mathews.

In early March, police received information that Mathews would be taking a trip to make a bulk purchase of heroin.

Police tailed him to Hartford, Conn., where he stopped at a house for about 10 minutes before returning to Pittsfield. Police pulled the car over about midnight on South Street near the Pittsfield Country Club.

Mathews denied having any drugs on him and denied that any drugs were in the car.

Hidden in Mathews' boxer shorts, was a plastic bag containing 700 bags of heroin. Police estimated the street value of the drugs at between $5,600 and $7,000.

Police seized a cell phone found inside the car that appeared to have the same phone number used during the controlled purchases.

He pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to possession of a Class A drug with the intent to distribute. Mathews was convicted on the same charge in 2011 in Hampden County.

Judge Mark Pasquariello revoked bail on open charges of assault and battery on a family or household member, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to violate the drug laws, and set bail of $2,500 on the new charge.

Mathews is due back in court on March 13 for a pretrial hearing.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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