Hello and happy new year! I wish I could be starting the year off with a happy story…but this is, after all, a criminal law blog.

Springfield authorities have announced their recent bust which took place on Saturday night. According to the Boston Herald . the police say that the heroin seized was marked with the infamous “Hollywood” stamp.

The “Hollywood’ stamp indicates that it is the “brand” of heroin that is running rampant through western Massachusetts.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni issued a warning about the drug brand recently in the wake of a spike in overdose deaths.

MassLive further tells us that on Friday night, Chicopee police took to social media to caution drug users about bags of heroin with the “Hollywood” label.

“We are also warning people of this heroin going around,” Officer Mike Wilk, the Chicopee Police Department’s public information officer, said in a Facebook post.

Chicopee authorities say that the lethal batch of dope has killed at least five people since December 30th.

Since Wednesday, Chicopee has had seven documented heroin overdoses, including three fatalities. Four of the overdoses occurred on New Year’s Day, Wilk said. Baggies bearing the “Hollywood” label were found at the locations where some of the people overdosed, he said.

“Please, if you know someone using, or (you) are using, do not use this,” Wilk said, referring to the potent strain. Anyone with information is asked to call Chicopee narcotics officers at 413-594-1700.

The bust in Springfield resulted in the seizure of 9,000 bags of the “Hollywood” heroin and $20,000 in cash. Four alleged dealers from Holyoke, Chicopee and North Adams were apprehended.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Potential Unexpected Criminal Charges

“What’s the big mystery, Sam? If they were found in possession of the heroin, then that is what they will be charged with.”

Well, yes…but that is not all.

Given the amount of drugs and money found, they will also be charged with possession with intent to distribute. Depending on what else the investigation turned up, there may be other drug-related charges, such as actual distribution.

Given the apparent deadliness of this particular brand of heroin, there could be more serious criminal charges than mere drug possession and trafficking.

There could be charges of homicide.

“Why is that? Nobody is forcing the user to take this particular heroin. Why would a dealer be responsible if someone overdoses? If I sell somebody a gun and they use it to shoot someone, am I going to get charged for the shooting?”

Usually not…although, of course, there are circumstances by which you might be. However, this is a different type of scenario.

This is a drug that is apparently known to be deadly. Therefore, dealers and manufacturers will be deemed to know this. Thus, as they sell this particular brand, they may well be charged with what are foreseeable deaths.

“ ‘Foreseeable?’ That sounds like business or civil litigation terms…not criminal terms.”

Maybe. But sometimes the terms are the same. For example, the language facing one who is charged with negligent motor vehicle homicide is quite similar to the language used in a wrongful death lawsuit regarding the same fatality.

There is also an added incentive to law enforcement to bring such a charge.

“What is that?”

As you can see, the authorities seem even more anxious to stem the tide of this particular brand of heroin. It is more urgent.

Once you start talking “murder” charges to folks who just expect drug charges, you begin to see those not terribly interested in helping law enforcement very interested in “cutting a deal”.

Such a deal often includes cooperation. In these cases, probably in tracking down the source of the drug.

Such a case could well have federal consequences for those so charged down the road.

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