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Addiction in Franklin County

Greenfield Police charge Westfield man with heroin trafficking

GREENFIELD — A simple traffic stop turned into drug trafficking charges for a Westfield man early Friday.

Just after midnight, officer Cody Guilbault watched a Lexus SUV roll through a Woodard Road stop sign, and pulled the vehicle over.

Guilbault identified the passenger as a suspected drug dealer, according to Chief Robert Haigh Jr.

The passenger, Antonio Rivera III, 27, of 9 Leonard Ave., Westfield, was arrested on charges of trafficking in heroin, and possession of heroin with intent to distribute as a subsequent offense. He pleaded innocent to both charges Friday in Greenfield District Court.

During the stop, Guilbault had the female driver step out of the vehicle to speak to her without her passenger present. She told them she was bringing Rivera back to Westfield after he spent the day in town, that she didn’t know of any drugs in the vehicle, and said a backpack in the car belonged to Rivera. She then consented to a search of the vehicle.

Inside the backpack, officers found 967 bags of heroin, along with $200, three grams of marijuana, and a marijuana grinder, according to Guilbault’s report. Two marijuana pipes were also found in the glove box, he wrote.

Officer Felix Ramos, who assisted in the stop, had been tailing Rivera earlier, according to his police report. Ramos wrote that two informants had told him Rivera, going by the street name “Gizmo,” had been selling a large amount of heroin in Greenfield, and that they had both bought directly from Rivera previously.

Sgt. David Rice saw Rivera, carrying a backpack, get into the Lexus at the Mohawk Trail Shell gas station shortly before Guilbault pulled it over, he wrote.

After his arrest, Rivera called his driver for bail, wrote Guilbault, and said “My bail is $3,450, you know where the cash is. Be at the jail at 6:30 (a.m.).”

At his arraignment, Rivera’s bail was raised to $10,000 cash or $50,000 surety.

Rivera has a previous conviction for heroin distribution, as well as an open case.

Rivera was arrested in Chicopee on Jan. 30, on charges of possession of a Class A substance with intent to distribute as a subsequent offense, possessing a firearm without an FID card, and driving without a license, according to Chicopee police logs.

Haigh called Friday’s bust significant.

“It’s a pretty substantial amount of heroin,” said Haigh. He added that, at $10 per bag, the heroin was worth $9,670 on the street.

Haigh said that, while heroin arrests are often made in Greenfield, that the drug problem is not isolated to the town.

“It’s a multi-county, multi-state problem,” he said. Haigh said the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force, formed last year with a focus on Franklin and Hampshire counties and Athol, has been indispensable in the fight against heroin.

While many arrested on heroin dealing charges are “user-dealers” supporting their own habits, with visible signs like track marks or constricted pupils, there was nothing in any officer’s report to indicate heroin use by either the driver or Rivera.

Haigh commended his officers on the arrest as well as their ongoing efforts in the area’s fight against heroin.

“Our officers have been very proactive,” he said. “When they do their job, follow through properly, remain aware and use their training and experience, these are the types of things that can arise from a simple traffic stop. It’s good, solid police work.”

Rivera faces a possible five to 20 years in prison for the trafficking charge, along with up to $50,000 in fines. He is set to return to court June 5 for a bind-over hearing.

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

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