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Rental car crack bust in Northfield

NORTHFIELD — State police arrested a Springfield man they say was on his way through town with a load of crack cocaine in a rental car.

Akwon Salaam, 28, of 80 Wellington St., was arrested on charges including possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, a subsequent offense, conspiracy to violate drug laws, using a motor vehicle without authority, refusing to identify oneself to police, exhibiting another’s driver’s license, driving with a suspended license, a marked lanes violation, possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, and an outstanding warrant.

Salaam was northbound on Route 10 at about 3:20 p.m. Saturday when he strayed from the marked lanes, causing trooper Michael McNally to pull him over, according to trooper Nicholas Pellegrino.

He initially tried to pass off another’s license as his own, but McNally wasn’t buying it. Once he learned the driver’s true identity, McNally found he did not have permission to drive the rental car.

A subsequent search turned up 7 grams of crack cocaine, said Pellegrino.

While many recent drug busts have occurred on Interstate 91, police are seeing an increase of drug trafficking on byways and side roads by those avoiding the highway in hopes to stay undetected, according to Pellegrino.

“They’re out there, taking every road to transport drugs,” he said. “They’re taking Route 10 to New Hampshire, Route 5 to Brattleboro, Route 116 through North Adams, and so on.”

While some of these arrests involve people bringing crack, cocaine or heroin back north to their home states, others from the Springfield and Holyoke areas, as well as Connecticut, are also bringing contraband to the northern states.

“They’re getting cheap prices in New York City, Connecticut and Springfield, and quadrupling their money at least when they resell them up north,” Pellegrino said. Drug prices reportedly skyrocket in northern New England, farther from source cities.

Salaam was held on $5,500 cash bail pending his arraignment in Greenfield District Court, scheduled for today.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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