Massachusetts State Police and local law enforcement seized 30 lbs. of heroin and fentanyl worth about $2 million on the streets.
Jose Casellas, 37, was busted on Thursday and was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Friday for two counts of trafficking heroin, three counts of possession a firearm without a license and providing a fake name at the booking.
On Thursday, officers in Andover seized approximately three kilograms of heroin and fentanyl on his person. After conducting a search warrant of Casellas’ Lawrence home, officers found 15 kilos of heroin and fentanyl, three guns, a kilo press, digital scales and other packaging material. He is being held on $2 million cash bail.
Attorney General Maura Healey said that her office aims to criminalize fentanyl trafficking.
“Fentanylis far more potent than heroin,” Healey said. “But there are currently no criminal charges for trafficking it.”
According to the DrugAbuse.gov, fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate that is far more powerful than morphine. It is used to treat severe pain. It is injected, applied with a transdermal patch or in lozenge form. Mixing it with heroin or cocaine increases the potency.
“It is a super drug,” ScottSchaus of the Boston University Chemistry Department said.”Fentanyl mixed with heroine is a powerful mix oftwocompounds that both bind the opioid receptors in the brain thatincreasesthe euphoric feeling.”
Law officials worked in a joint taskforce with the Attorney General’s Office, Massachusetts State Police Transportation Drug Unit, the DEA, Lawrence, Andover and Methuen Police Departments.
“We usually don’t see seizures like this,” State Police Colonel Tim Alben said.“This operation without a doubt saved the life of someone who would have overdosed on this poison. Of course we know that users will continue to seek other sources of drugs. We continue to work with social service agencies that provide help to reduce demand, while we continue to hammer the supply.
Alben said that the State Police counted 114 deaths connected to opiates in December, but that number is in decline, dropping to 55 so far in June.
“We’re seeing early indications that the deaths are starting to go down,” Alben said. “But 55 is still too many.”
Casellas is thought to have a large roll in a heroin distribution ring between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He is due back in Lawrence District Court for a probable cause hearing on July 22.