Offering a glimpse of the pipeline for illegal drugs into Gloucester, two city women were arrested Wednesday afternoon at Grant Circle after returning from Peabody and what a surveilling Gloucester officer believed was a drug buy.

Gloucester police arrested Amanda C. Knowles, 31, of 144 Cherry St., Apt. 1, on charges of possession of fentanyl and possession of crack cocaine.

Officers also arrested Heather A. Buonopane, 44, of 111 Washington St., Apt. 2, and charged her with possession of fentanyl, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.

According to the report, Detective Jonathan Trefry was conducting surveillance on Maplewood Avenue when he saw Knowles and Buonopane in a gray Honda Accord.

“Knowles is a known drug user,” Trefry wrote in the narrative. “Detectives have received information in the past from confidential sources about Knowles using and distributing narcotics.”

Trefry said he followed the vehicle being driven by Buonopane, with Knowles in the passenger seat, to Middle Street.

“I then observed Knowles get out of the vehicle and meet an unidentified male at the door of the YMCA apartments,” Trefry wrote. “It was a quick meeting and it appeared that the male gave Knowles money.”

Trefry said he then followed the vehicle to the vicinity of Madison Avenue and Ivy Court.

“I then observed an unknown female walk out of Ivy Court and meet Buonopane at her driver side window,” Trefry reported. “They spoke for approximately two minutes. It appeared there was a hand exchange through the driver side window. I believe that this female gave Buonopane money for them to pick up narcotics out of town.”

The Honda Accord containing the two women traveled onto Route 128 and headed south to the Northshore Mall. Trefry followed. He first observed the vehicle in the parking area near the Nordstrom store before losing sight of it.

“I have received information from detectives in Beverly and Danvers in the past that Gloucester drug users often meet dealers at the Liberty Tree and Northshore malls,” Trefry reported. “I believed through my training and experience that Buonopane and Knowles were attempting to meet a drug dealer in that area.”

Trefry decided to head back to Gloucester. He parked in the Route 128 rest area near Exit 19 in Beverly. Five minutes later, he wrote, the Accord with the two women inside passed by, heading north. He pulled onto Route 128 and followed.

En route, he contacted Lt. Michael Gossom, chief of detectives, and Sgt. Sean Conners to request backup. Officers, including Detective Tom Quinn, set up at Grant Circle.

Trefry estimated the Accord was traveling about 80 mph near Exit 14 in Gloucester and maintained that speed as it approached the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge.

“I planned to stop the vehicle for speeding when it approached the rotary with other officers assisting,” Trefry reported. “As the vehicle approached the rotary, I activated my blue lights and siren.”

He approached the stopped vehicle on the passenger side and spoke with Knowles.

“Her eyes were pinned and she appeared nervous,” Trefry wrote in his narrative. “I asked her where she was coming from and she said shopping at Market Basket. She then appeared to crumble a plastic cellophane wrapper in her hand and hide it in her purse down by her feet. At that point, I ordered her to get out of the vehicle believing she was attempting to hide drugs.”

Conners and Quinn spoke with Buonopane. According to the report, Buonopane voluntarily turned over drugs to the officers.

“After hearing this, Knowles admitted to having drugs in her bra inside a tissue,” Trefry wrote. “Inside the tissue were four bags of what appeared to be crack cocaine and one twist bag of fentanyl.”

Both women were arrested and Buonopane’s vehicle was towed. 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.