8th suspect facing drug-trafficking charges linked to April raids

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PITTSFIELD — A man who police believe ran a large-scale drug operation in Pittsfield has been ordered held on $50,000 bail on charges related to a coordinated series of raids across Berkshire and Hampden counties in April.

Dennis Ducharme, 28, of Pittsfield, who was out of state at the time of the raids, was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday on charges related to the case. He was arrested in New York on April 23 — about two weeks after the raids — on a charge of being a fugitive from justice.

In addition to setting bail, Judge Mason revoked Ducharme's bail on an open 2018 case on charges including heroin and cocaine trafficking and inducing a minor to distribute a controlled substance.

His new case includes charges of cocaine and heroin trafficking, along with conspiracy, and weapons possession charges.

Ducharme, along with his brother Dylan, 23, are among eight defendants who have been charged as a result of the raids.

The defendants are accused of trafficking tens of thousands of bags of heroin into Berkshire County over a two-week period, according to court records. The other defendants are Ryan Henault, 21; Paul Lewis, 24; Zackary Kirkland, 20; and James Daley, 26, all of Pittsfield; and Shameen Howard, 27, and Aquireya Howe, 22, both of Springfield.

Howard was ordered held on $10,000 bail on Monday after being arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court. Howe, whose bail was set at $5,000 after her District Court arraignment on April 8, was expected to be arraigned Wednesday in Superior Court.

Beginning on March 13, investigators were granted a series of wiretap warrants for cellphones belonging to targets of the investigation and a warrant authorizing the installation of a GPS device on a vehicle. On Thursday investigators applied for, and were granted, search warrants for the residences of Dennis Ducharme, Kirkland, Henault, Howard and Howe, as well as for their 2018 Nissan Rogue.

Police allege that Dennis Ducharme received his supply from Howard and Howe, who would bring heroin into Pittsfield from Springfield, according to court files.

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The April 5 raids resulted in the seizure of nearly 4,500 bags of heroin, weighing approximately 112.4 grams. Police said Howard and Howe delivered heroin to the other suspects at least eight times between March 22 and April 5, in amounts ranging between 1,500 and 4,000 bags.

Police also stopped Henault's vehicle on West Street and found him with about $9,200 cash. Inside Henault's apartment, police found cocaine and dealer paraphernalia.

In Dennis Ducharme's Wahconah Street apartment, police found cash, a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun loaded with a 10-round magazine, a ballistic vest and dealer paraphernalia.

Police had also surveilled Lewis' vehicle and watched him pick up Daley and Kirkland before stopping the vehicle on West Housatonic Street. That search yielded more heroin and cocaine, nearly $3,000 cash and a digital scale.

All eight suspects have been charged with trafficking in heroin between 100 and 200 grams and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Dennis Ducharme, Lewis, Kirkland and Daley face charges of trafficking in cocaine between 18 and 36 grams. Henault has been charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Dennis Ducharme also faces two counts of possession of a firearm without a firearms identification card, two counts of possession of a large-capacity feeding device and one count of committing a firearms violation with one or more previous violent offenses.

If convicted of the heroin-trafficking charges, each defendant faces up to 20 years in state prison.

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


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