NORTH ADAMS — A man police believe is a major drug supplier to the Northern Berkshires is in custody in Vermont after being arrested Friday at a hotel in Williamstown.
Edwin Morales, 22, had evaded authorities in recent months despite investigators' seizure of about 6,000 bags of heroin, 100 grams of cocaine, nine firearms and thousands of dollars in cash from people and residences connected to him, according to police.
He was arrested about 5:30 a.m. Friday by local police and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who tracked Morales and his girlfriend to the Cozy Corner Motel. He was returned to Vermont, where he is being held on a federal arrest warrant out of Burlington for conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Morales and his girlfriend and alleged conspirator, Nadia Jones, are expected to face unspecified future charges in Berkshire County. Jones' status was unclear as of Tuesday afternoon.
The arrest was the culmination of an investigation that began in the summer of 2018, according to the criminal complaint filed in Northern Berkshire District Court by North Adams Police Detective Sgt. Mark Bailey. It was built on seven confidential informants and eight controlled purchases of narcotics.
Previous raids tied to Morales include the simultaneous search of residences on Eagle and Porter streets on Jan. 18, in which police found 66 grams of cocaine, 5,595 bags of heroin, $4,003 in cash and two handguns.
Less than a week later, police arrested another man — Ronald Sanford III — who they believe worked for Morales. He is charged with possessing two bags of cocaine weighing a total of 33 grams and several unlicensed weapons, including a .22-caliber long rifle that is categorized as a "large-capacity firearm" and contained a single round in the chamber and 24 rounds in the magazine, according to police.
Morales and Jones were quickly taken into custody when police arrived at the motel room they were staying at with two other people.
Joseph Bunt, 34, and Lakarra Williams, 28, who were renting the motel room and allegedly dealing drugs on behalf of Morales, were found to be in possession of approximately 20 grams of cocaine and 100 bags of heroin in a black safe beneath their bed. Officers found an additional 12 bags of heroin elsewhere in the room.
Williams had an active warrant for her arrest and was taken into custody.
Simultaneously, police raided a Hall Street residence that Morales allegedly frequented.
Deshaunte King, 24, was arrested after police discovered 1,315 bags of heroin and 79 grams of cocaine inside a safe in her bedroom. Together, police estimated the street value of the drugs to be between $17,105 and $21,050.
Police also found an unspecified amount of cocaine and $756 in cash in the purse of Leila Moody-Williams, who was also present at the time of the raid.
King pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday to single counts of trafficking in cocaine between 18 and 36 grams, trafficking and heroin between 18 and 36 grams, and conspiracy to violate drug laws. Moody-Williams pleaded not guilty to a single count of possession to distribute a Class B drug.
They both were released on personal recognizance and scheduled to return April 24 for pretrial hearings.
Bunt and Williams are expected to face charges of trafficking in cocaine between 18 and 36 grams, possession with intent to distribute a Class A drug, and conspiracy to violate drug laws. Bunt's status also was unclear on Tuesday.
Adam Shanks can be reached at email@example.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.