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Addiction in Franklin County

State police arrest four with 1,250 bags of heroin

State police recovered these 1,250 bags of heroin, labeled "Obamacare" and "Kurt Cobain," in a Hatfield traffic stop . Photo/Mass State Police

State police recovered these 1,250 bags of heroin, labeled "Obamacare" and "Kurt Cobain," in a Hatfield traffic stop . Photo/Mass State Police

HATFIELD — A drug bust that took 1,250 bags of heroin off the streets made international news because of the way the drug was labeled.

Many of the individual-sized bags were branded “Obamacare,” while others bore the name of dead grunge rocker and known heroin user Kurt Cobain, of the band Nirvana.

Early Friday morning, trooper Joseph Petty was in the middle of a traffic stop on Interstate 91 in Northampton when a car in the right lane passed him, in violation of the state’s “move over” law.

The law states that, whenever possible, motorists must change lanes to give a wide berth to stopped emergency vehicles.

Petty took off after the car and pulled it over in Hatfield.

According to a news release, unspecified “evidence of narcotics” led Petty to believe there were drugs in the vehicle. He called in another trooper and a police dog, which sniffed out a cache of heroin in the vehicle.

Four were arrested: a Vermont man and woman and two people from Newark, N.J. According to several news sources, Newark is a hotbed of heroin activity.

The driver, Tyler Robenstein, 23, of Colchester, Vt., and passengers Ashley Beaulieu, 21, of Colchester, and Marquese Jones, 22, and Sherod Green, 32, both of Newark, were arrested on charges of trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Robenstein was also charged with driving without a license, speeding and failing to move over for an emergency vehicle.

Branding of heroin is not uncommon, though the unusual name “Obamacare” garnered attention from news agencies as far away as the Australian Business Insider.

Locally, heroin is a serious problem and is a major focus of the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force, set up earlier this year.

Greenfield police have said the drug is more available in town than it’s been since the 1990s. Prices as low as $5 per bag have made the drug an attractive alternative to pharmaceutical painkillers for those addicted to the opiate-based pills.

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