Three separate police investigations have led to several major drug arrests, the Martha's Vineyard Drug Task Force announced this week.
An Oak Bluffs man was arrested Sunday at the Stop & Shop in Vineyard Haven, while two separate incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday led to the arrest of three others. All have been charged with various drug-related crimes.
The arrests are the result of months of investigative work by the task force and the Oak Bluffs Narcotics Enforcement Team (OBNET), said Oak Bluffs Lieut. Timothy Williamson.
"Our team got some grant money that allowed us to really get a lot of work done," he said. "The arrests just happen to fall on the same week, but I think the assistance of grant money is a major reason there was such a spike in arrests."
At around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Columbus Mario Jones, 25, of Oak Bluffs, was arrested by task force members at the Stop & Shop in Vineyard Haven where he works.
Mr. Jones was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana.
Police reports at Edgartown District Court stated that the task force, led by Mr. Williamson and Sgt. Jeff Stone of the Massachusetts state police, obtained a search warrant for both Mr. Jones and a coworker at the supermarket. The officers entered the store and questioned the suspects.
Police said that after searching Mr. Jones's coat, they found seven small knotted baggies each containing approximately one gram of cocaine. Another plastic bag containing a half-ounce of marijuana was also found.
The search of the coworker yielded no drugs.
According to a statement released by Oak Bluffs police, Mr. Jones was arrested in 2002 by West Tisbury and state police and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana and conspiracy to violate narcotics laws.
Mr. Jones was arraigned in Edgartown District Court and held on $15,000 bail.
On Tuesday, drug task force officers arrested Jason Bowes, 27, of Oak Bluffs at the Martha's Vineyard Airport.
Acting on a tip from West Tisbury police and airport employees, officers approached Mr. Bowes after he stepped off a plane from New Bedford. A search found two grams of heroin in his shoe. He was detained and charged with possession of a Class A substance with intent to distribute.
Mr. Bowes is currently on parole in Rhode Island for other drug offenses, according to Oak Bluffs police reports. His bail was set at $50,000.
The next day, task force officers executed a search warrant for a Vineyard Haven resident who was indicted last week in Barnstable Superior Court for trafficking in heroin and cocaine.
According to the police statement, Nancy A. Higgins, 44, was found in her Vineyard Haven home early Wednesday afternoon in possession of heroin.
Also in the house was Leo Willoughby, 47, of Edgartown, who was arrested on similar drug charges. Bail was set at $25,000 for both Ms. Higgins and Mr. Willoughby, both scheduled for court appearances today.
"Luck was on our side in all of these investigations," Mr. Williamson said. "Our intelligence is good and we know who the players are and where they are usually coming from, so we are prepared."
The task force is made up of officers from each of the towns along with members of the state police.