Heroin in NYC bust may have been WMass bound

Some ‘brands’ found consistent with F.C. busts

BRONX, N.Y. — Federal agents confiscated 33 pounds of heroin and arrested two men they say ran a heroin operation that distributed the drug throughout the Northeast.

Some of the drugs could have been bound for our area.

Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney said “100 percent” of the heroin in his city comes from New York. The Springfield and Holyoke areas are cited by state and local police as the source of much of the heroin turned up in Franklin County drug arrests.

The Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that the drugs found in the Thursday raid were worth up to $8 million.

In addition to the drugs, DEA agents also found packaging materials and baking soda, which was likely used to dilute the drug before packaging, according to a DEA press release.

More than 500,000 small wax paper bags bearing several logos and the corresponding stamps were found in the raid, according to the release.

Heroin is often branded by dealers, and at least one of the brands found in the Bronx raid has turned up in Franklin County before.

Among the 13 brands was one called “brain storm,” which has been found by police in Franklin County at least twice.

On March 21, 2013, state police arrested a Greenfield man with 800 bags of “brain storm” heroin in his engine compartment, and allegedly found another 50 bags on his companion. Allen Smith, 30, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute last month in Franklin County Superior Court, and was given 18 months in county jail, with a year’s sentence suspended as he serves probation for one year after release.

More recently, a Naples, Fla., man was arrested on Interstate 91 when police allegedly found 49 full bags of heroin, 48 empty bags and several needles in his car. Some of the bags bore the “brain storm” logo.

Arrested in the Bronx bust were Augustin Rivera, 35, and Cristino Then, both of the Bronx. Both are charged with the federal offenses of possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, and using drug paraphernalia in the second degree.

The DEA continues to investigate the heroin epidemic plaguing the region.

“Heroin is pummeling the Northeast, leaving addiction, overdoses and fear in its wake,” wrote DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt.

The drug has been blamed for at least nine fatal overdoses in the Franklin and Hampshire counties in the last 40 days, according to Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.

In our area, the Northwestern Anti Crime Task Force has made the heroin problem one of its top priorities. While prosecuting dealers is one way to deal with the problem, Sullivan and many others have said that the battle cannot be won without addiction treatment and prevention.

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

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