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Addiction in Franklin County

Man charged in Armory St. crack arrest

GREENFIELD — A pre-dawn drug raid netted several thousand dollars’ worth of crack cocaine and an alleged drug dealer, according to police.

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Anti-Crime Task Force, Greenfield Police and the State Police Special Tactical Operations team executed a search warrant at 4 Armory St., Apartment 4, Wednesday morning and arrested Rion G. Latta, 33, of that address.

Latta is charged with trafficking in cocaine, 18 to 36 grams, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine as a subsequent offense.

Latta pleaded not guilty to those charges at his arraignment in Greenfield District Court. Judge William F. Mazanec III ordered Latta held at the Franklin County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $1,000,000 surety.

Detective Lt. Daniel McCarthy, acting chief of the Greenfield Police Department, said the search warrant was obtained based on a lengthy investigation conducted by the task force, which was reconstituted recently to combat drug dealing in Franklin and Hampshire counties.

McCarthy said the Special Tactical Operations team participated because there was information in Latta’s history to support the possibility of violence against police, but the arrest went smoothly.

According to the report filed by state trooper Stephen Burgess of the Hampshire and Franklin County narcotics unit, the tactical team entered the apartment at 4:50 a.m. and found Latta and his girlfriend asleep in bed.

Police seized approximately 37 grams of crack cocaine, with a street value of $3,000 to $5,000, according to McCarthy, along with three electronic scales, packaging materials and about $13,000 in cash.

The drugs were lying out on the kitchen counter, some packaged in pieces of plastic bags and some unpackaged, McCarthy said.

According to Burgess’ report, Latta told police the drugs were for his own use and he had left them out on the counter after getting high the night before and implied that he sells a little to support his own drug habit.

Police found no smoking apparatus or evidence of materials to ingest cocaine in crack or powder form, according to the report.

Latta also told police he recently moved to town from Springfield and is unemployed, due to anxiety and damage to his legs from a shooting on Liberty Street in Springfield within the past six months.

The report lists three prior drug dealing arrests resulting in convictions from Hampden Superior Court and Springfield District Court for arrests in 1997, 2000 and 2001.

The task force is an initiative of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office formed with the initial goal of targeting the drug trade and pooling hours and resources from local police departments, the sheriff’s office and state police.

Wednesday’s raid is the third task force drug raid in Greenfield. Police twice raided the home at 1 Bouker St., on July 2 and May 16, arresting resident Tara Shippee, 39.

In all three instances charges have stemmed from crack cocaine, a drug that is not new to the area. In the late 1990s crack cocaine became enough of a problem locally that Greenfield police sought federal assistance and conducted a number of raids.

“It’s starting to roll in there heavy again, so obviously this will start putting a dent in it,” McCarthy said.

Police also arrested Latta’s girlfriend, Victoria McCrae, 29, also of 4 Armory St., Apartment 4, for an active warrant relating to motor vehicle violations.

McCrae does not face charges in relation to the drugs, which she and Latta told police she does not use, according to Burgess’ report.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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