Less than 24 hours after a grass-roots vigil remembered those who have died from drug overdoses, Gloucester detectives arrested a man from Chelsea who they say has been one of the city’s main heroin and cocaine suppliers.
Gloucester Detectives Jeremiah Nicastro and Steve Mizzoni arrested Luis Martinez, 22, of 154 Pearl St. in Chelsea on charges of heroin possession and distribution after he ran a stop sign of Pleasant Street, Saturday afternoon.
They also arrested Jennifer Bernabel, 21, of 89 Rainbow Terrace in Salem on heroin possession charges; Bernabel, according to police, was with Martinez when detectives arrested him.
“A main supplier of cocaine and heroin in the city was taken off the streets today,” said Nicastro.
According to the police report, Martinez had 4.7 grams of heroin when they arrested him — worth about $700, Nicastro said. But, he added, Martinez is believed to have served several buyers in the city, and, between Martinez, Bernabel and a roll of bills in Martinez’ car, police confiscated some $1,251 in cash during the midday arrests that stemmed from surveillance in the area of Burnham’s Field.
The arrests came Officer Scott Duffany told Nicastro and Mizzoni that four people police knew to be heroin users were hanging around near Burnham’s Field earlier that day. The two detectives arrived, and watched them from unmarked cruisers. When the group broke up, one of the users walked toward Nicastro’s cruiser, and he left, driving onto Cleveland Street.
As he turned off the street, a green Acura without a front license plate cut in front of him, according to the police report. He caught the car’s registration number, and noted that a man with dreadlocks or braids was driving; an informant had told police that the man with braids who drives that car sells heroin to several people around the city, the report indicates.
Nicastro then checked the description with an off-duty detective, and then called Mizzoni.
Mizzoni saw the car in front of a house. Police knew the person who lived in it used heroin, according to Nicastro’s report. They saw the man, Martinez — who the informant called “Nino” — step out of the car and go into the house. The informant had told police that “Nino” delivers to that house, and that heroin is bought and sold at that house near Shepherd Street.
When “Nino” left, police followed the car onto Shepherd Street. The car ran a stop sign when it turned onto Pleasant Street and police turned on lights and sirens, following it down Maplewood Avenue and onto Grove street before stopping it at 2:30 p.m. Police saw the man stick something down his pants and pass something to a female passenger, Bernabel.
They then approached the Acura, and noted 13 air fresheners hanging inside. Nicastro said, in his report, that drug dealers use that number of air fresheners to mask the smell of narcotics.
Nicastro asked Martinez where he had been; Martinez, according to the report, said he came from “the fireworks,” despite the fact that it was mid-afternoon.
Nicastro said he saw two cell phones, also in common use among drug dealers, the reports. The report also notes that Martinez kept his hand between his legs while officers had him and Bernabel step outside of the car. Nicastro then patted Martinez down, the report notes, and a small digital scale fell out of his shorts, and a white/brown powder residue was on the scale, said Nicastro.
Nicastro then walked Martinez away from the car and Mizzoni spoke to Bernabel, who after some time, pulled a bag of heroin out of her pocket that Martinez had handed to her.
Nicastro then arrested Martinez, and, after she argued with police over Martinez’ arrest, arrested Bernabel as well.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StevenGDT