PITTSFIELD — Three men are facing trafficking charges after police, acting on a tip, stopped their car on South Street and found a “large amount” of heroin and a loaded firearm, authorities said.
Marcus Johnson, 22, of Springfield, was ordered held without bail Thursday. Jalen Ramos, 22, of West Springfield, and Wilson Diaz, 25, of Westfield, were released after their arraignments. They all pleaded not guilty.
During a dangerousness hearing Thursday in Central Berkshire District Court, Deputy Berkshire District Attorney Richard Dohoney said a tip provided to the Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team West contained “very credible, very specific information” that Johnson would be traveling to Pittsfield from Springfield on Sunday with heroin to distribute in Berkshire County.
At 3:38 p.m., investigators spotted a black Acura that belonged to Diaz, a “close associate” of Johnson’s, exit the Massachusetts Turnpike in Lee and head north on Route 20, according to a probable cause report. The car stopped at Brushwood Farm in Lenox for about 10 minutes before continuing on to Pittsfield.
Members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force stopped the car on South Street, near South Mountain Road, just after 4 p.m. and ordered the occupants out, Dohoney said.
Diaz, the driver, and Ramos, who was in the rear passenger seat, got out without trouble. But, Johnson, Dohoney said, tensed up and resisted, “resulting in the appropriate use of force to render him to the prone position.”
Police found a loaded Ruger pistol with a round in the chamber in the front pocket of Johnson’s sweatshirt.
On the floor of the front passenger seat area, police found a box that Dohoney said contained about 2,000 bags of suspected heroin, valued at about $12,000, packaged for “bulk resale.”
All three men were charged with one count of heroin trafficking.
Johnson also was charged with unlawful possession of a loaded firearm; possession of a large-capacity firearm; improper storage of a large-capacity firearm; possession of a large-capacity feeding device; commission of a felony while armed with a high-capacity firearm; and a firearms violation with prior violent crime or drug convictions.
Prosecutors initially asked for Ramos and Diaz to be detained before trial but withdrew that request, Dohoney said, and they were released.
Johnson’s defense lawyer, Nikolas Andreopoulos, argued for Johnson’s release on $5,000 cash bail, with a condition that he stay out of Berkshire County.
Andreopoulos said police did not have legal justification to order the men out of the car because the tip they received pertained only to there being drugs in the car.
“Drugs in the car does not amount to an exit order under our law,” he said.
Judge Paul Smyth declined that request and ordered Johnson held without the right to bail. Smyth also revoked his bail on a pending Superior Court charge of drug possession with intent to distribute.
Johnson is due to return to court March 17.