Raids targeting Springfield-Berkshires drug trafficking net 4,500 bags of heroin, 7 arrests
This story has been corrected to reflect that seven arrests were made.
PITTSFIELD — Seven people accused of running a complex drug-trafficking operation between Springfield and Berkshire County were arrested Friday in a coordinated series of raids.
Investigators say the scheme, conducted by at least seven individuals, trafficked more than 23,000 bags of heroin into Berkshire County over a two-week period. During the raids police seized thousands of bags of heroin, cocaine, a pair of handguns, ammunition, a ballistic vest, thousands in cash and other evidence.
Police arrested Dylan Ducharme, 23, 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. They were arraigned on their respective charges in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday before Judge Robert T. Santaniello.
Twenty-eight-year-old Dennis Ducharme, of Pittsfield, named in court documents, is being sought in connection with the investigation.
Howe and Daley were ordered held on $5,000 and $10,000 bail, respectively, and are both due back in court May 2. The remaining defendants are being held without bail, pending hearings scheduled for April 11.
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 their 2018 Nissan Rogue.
According to court files, police believe Dennis Ducharme operated a large-scale drug operation in Pittsfield and allege that he received his supply from Howard and Howe, who would bring heroin into Pittsfield from Springfield.
Friday's 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 Friday, in amounts ranging between 1,500 and 4,000 bags.
On Friday, police learned that the group was organizing a resupply into Berkshire County of 3,000 bags of heroin. Police surveilled a Brown Street residence and about 2:55 p.m., stopped the Nissan used by Howe and Howard who were inside with Dylan Ducharme. The three were removed from the vehicle and declined to speak with police.
Police found Dylan Ducharme carrying 60 bags of what appeared to be heroin and about $5,650 cash. Inside the car, police found another 3,000 bags of what is believed to be heroin, hidden in cereal boxes in the trunk and another $1,160 in cash.
About the same time, police raided Howe and Howard's Chestnut Street apartment in Springfield. In that search, police recovered more bags containing suspected heroin, dealer paraphernalia and $20,000 cash.
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, according to court files.
Police also searched Dennis Ducharme's Wahconah Street apartment and 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 bags of heroin, two bags of cocaine, nearly $3,000 cash and a digital scale.
A search of a Canal Street apartment associated with the investigation recovered a 9 mm Glock semi-automatic handgun with a magazine containing 17 rounds, and other loose pieces of ammunition.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.