While the rest of us have been battling with snow, wagers on the Super Bowl and the like, Springfield’s law enforcement has been continuing its battle against Massachusetts drug crimes.
It has been relatively lucrative too. In Springfield, police recently confiscated over $22,000 in cash and over 2,000 bags heroin after arresting two local gentlemen.
Springfield Police Sgt. John Delaney announced that narcotics detectives had been conducting a criminal investigation into two alleged heroin dealers “who were responsible for distributing thousands and thousands of bags of heroin every week” across the area. Finally, toward the end of January, surveillance was set-up on one of the targets, identified as 49-year-old George Delgado (Hereinafter, “Target1”) of Springfield.
According to Delaney, detectives saw Target1 leave a residence on St. James Avenue and travel to a suspected ‘safe house’ on Westminster Street. He was then observed with 46-year-old Samuel Velez (hereinafter, “Target 2”) of Springfield. The two allegedly got into a vehicle and left Westminster Street.
The vehicle was pulled over a short time later at Catherine and McKnight Streets. Delaney says that as the detectives approached the car, they saw that Target1 was the passenger and that he threw a bag into the rear seat. Target2 is said to have been driving Target1’s car.
Both men were placed under arrest, and police seized 1,000 bags of heroin from the vehicle.
Next, the detectives raided the Westminster Street home and reportedly seized an additional 1,387 bags of heroin stamped ‘Lucky Charms’, three semi-automatic handguns, 70 rounds of ammunition, $22,565 in cash, and drug paraphernalia.
Target1 now faces charges for trafficking in heroin (36-100 grams), violation of a drug-free school zone, and operating under suspension. Target2 faces various charges including possession of a large capacity firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a high-capacity feeding device, improper storage of a firearm, trafficking in heroin (36-100 grams), violation of a drug-free school zone,
Delaney maintains that “Crime statistics in Springfield have been dropping and the war on Heroin is ongoing and being won, one arrest at a time”.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Search, Seizure, Drugs And Guns
Unlike other cases which we have recently discussed, there is no claim that Targets 1&2 were simply pulled over by chance and, thereafter, found to possess drugs. This arrest was clearly the result of an ongoing investigation. That is why there was surveillance set up in the first place.
I have handled many drug cases like this, both on the side of the prosecution (in Brooklyn, New York) and the defense (here in the Commonwealth). The primary issues in this case will be those having to do with search and seizure. In other words, the question will be whether or not law enforcement seized the drugs and guns legally.
“So…given the facts…did they?”
Well, it is actually impossible to tell from the scant amount of facts thus far released to the public. In fact, such facts often provide shrouds of secrecy for the defense.
“Why? I thought the prosecution had to give the information to the defense as part of ‘discovery’.”
Yes, but the government (state or federal) often argues that to release certain information would be to sacrifice ongoing investigations and even endanger others involved in said investigations.
In such cases, the court must balance the rights of the criminal defendant against the rights of the prosecution.
For example, if I were counsel for either defendant, one of the first things I would want to do is discover all that the investigation revealed about my client as well as anything that would tend to lessen his involvement in the ongoing alleged conspiracy. I would be entitled to much of that by right because, at the very least, it was probably part of the probable cause the detectives will claim for stopping the car and making the arrests.
Interestingly, much of the investigation might be relevant for a motion to suppress, but not for trial. The Commonwealth usually starts the fact scenario in the trial at the point of observing the targets on the day of the arrest.
“But if you find helpful in the background investigation, can’t YOU decide to introduce it at the trial?”
Sure. But one has to be careful. Sometimes when the defense introduces additional facts, it is found to have “opened the” door to the Commonwealth to introduce additional inculpatory evidence which it might otherwise not be able to.
“So the defense has to stay with the scenario that the Commonwealth decides to paint?”
Not at all. Defense counsel does, however, need to be very careful and plan for various possibilities when preparing for trial.
Of course, as I mentioned, there is a long road between now and this matter getting to trial (if it does get to trial). The primary focus of the defense at this point should be in trying to suppress the items seized.
If that is successful, and the Commonwealth cannot use the drugs and guns seized, then the case gets dismissed.
Issues concerning discovery, suppression and, especially, trial strategy can be complex and sometimes even counter-intuitive to the novice eye. That is why I recommend doing what you can to have experienced defense counsel.
For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.wggb.com/2015/01/23/over-2000-bags-of-heroin-seized-following-springfield-arrests/