Island police ended the summer with several drug arrests and investigations, including three men charged with drug trafficking and the discovery of 20 marijuana plants in Aquinnah.
As part of an ongoing prescription drugs investigation, members of the Martha’s Vineyard Task Force Tuesday arrested three men who allegedly came to the Island to sell prescription drugs.
According to Oak Bluffs police, Mike G. Jean-Francois, 25, of Middleboro, Brandon F. Merkman, 31, of Sagamore, and Quentin A. Phillip, 27, of Boston, were arrested Tuesday on Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs after officers observed a plastic prescription bottle with no markings inside a hat where the men had been sitting.
Officers allegedly discovered 268 30-milligram Percocet pills inside the prescription bottle, which had no label. Police said they found another 23 Percocet pills in Mr. Phillip’s pockets.
The three men were each charged with trafficking in heroin/morphine/opiates and conspiracy to violate drug law. Bail was initially set at $5,000 cash, and they were arraigned Thursday morning in Edgartown district court.
Oak Bluffs Det. Nicholas Curelli said in a department press release that the Percocet pills could sell on the street for $50 apiece, making the drugs found worth about $15,000.
On August 27, police arrested an Oak Bluffs man on charges including possessing to distribute a class B drug (Oxycodone). According to a report filed in court, police executed a search warrant at a Wing Road home, where Nicholas Viaggio, 29, allegedly resisted and assaulted a police officer. Police allegedly found about 116 pills for “use and distribution,” the report said, as well as coins valued at more than $250 from a past breaking and entering in Edgartown. Police allegedly also found boxes of plastic bags, a scale, and more than $10,000.
Mr. Viaggio was charged with receiving stolen property more than $250, possessing to distribute a class B drug (Oxycodone), assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest. In a separate case, he was arraigned on August 15 charges in Oak Bluffs of larceny over $250, forgery of a check and uttering false check.
According to court documents, bail was set at $1,250 surety for each case, with a condition of release to attend a recovery program in Franklin, N.H., and remain drug and alcohol-free with screens.
At the same home, police arrested Laura F. Brown, 29, of Philadelphia, Pa., after allegedly finding a prescription bottle containing several types of pills. Ms. Brown was charged with possessing a class B drug (Percocet ) and possessing a class E drug (Celexa, Carisoprodol, Tramadol, Zolpidem). Bail was set at $500.
Mr. Viaggio and Ms. Brown were arraigned on August 29 and are scheduled to return to court for pretrial hearings on Sept. 23.
A Revere man was arrested last week and charged with cocaine trafficking after allegedly bringing 26.5 grams of cocaine to the Vineyard.
Members of the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force also arrested Kleyck Correa, 35, after he arrived on the Island Friday, August 26. According to a police report filed in court by Oak Bluffs officer and drug task force member Jeff LaBell, the police received information from a confidential informant that Mr. Correa was coming to the Island with cocaine. Police said Mr. Correa, who also went by the name Mike Kevin, was allegedly going to distribute the drugs at a weekend party on the Island.
Officers approached Mr. Correa after he got off a Steamship Authority ferry, and received consent to search his backpack, the report said. A detective allegedly found 26.5 grams of a white powdery substance consistent with cocaine wrapped in plastic and tin foil and hidden inside a sneaker.
The drugs have a street value of $2,600, police said.
Bail was set at $10,000 and a pretrial hearing was scheduled for Sept. 26.
Meanwhile, Aquinnah police are investigating a late August discovery of 20 marijuana plants on a Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation property off Lighthouse Road.
A Sheriff’s Meadow employee called the department August 22 to report the discovery of marijuana plants on the conservation land located off Lighthouse Road, according to a report by officer Steven Mathias. The land is a wooded and swamp area and the only access to the property is a right of way path owned by five different people.
On the west side of a tennis court a “clearly visible and well-traveled path into the woods” led to a dead end where about 20 marijuana plants were found enclosed by plastic fencing. The smell was strong and consistent with marijuana, the police report said, and the plants were in a swampy, muddy area that is difficult to access. The Sheriff’s Meadow employee said the property was last checked sometime over the winter.
The marijuana plants, averaging about five feet tall, were in plastic pots and “appeared green and healthy,” the report said.
Officer Mathias wrote that there was at least one set of distinguishable footprints on the path and in the fenced area. When police later revisited the site, brush and tree limbs were blocking access to the path.
The Aquinnah police worked with Wampanoag Tribal Ranger Curtis Chandler to install a motion-activated trail camera, the report said. The camera was placed pointing toward the path, the police report said, and they camouflaged the camera and covered their footprints.
Two days later the police department confiscated the marijuana plants, and the plants were secured at the Aquinnah police department until they can be destroyed. A report by Aquinnah police officer David Murphy said the department was pursuing leads, including camera images, in the ongoing investigation.
Aquinnah police chief Randhi Belain told the Gazette Tuesday that the police department is still investigating the case but they have a pretty good idea about the identity of the marijuana gardener. Anyone with information can call the station at 508-645-2313.