A search for drugs in a Manchester auto repair shop netted more than authorities expected, and five people were arrested in the largest heroin bust in Manchester history and in recent state history, city police said.
After an eight-month investigation, members of the SWAT team searched the small shop and seized 100 grams of heroin, numerous illegal prescription pills and just over $4,400 in cash, authorities said.
Then they got lucky.
While at the garage, investigators learned there was a shipment of drugs about to arrive from Lawrence, Mass., Police Chief David Mara said. With three suspects in custody and headed to the police department, a car arrived, he said.
Police searched the vehicle and discovered an additional 200 grams of heroin, nearly 30 grams of cocaine and $7,400 in cash. Some of the drugs, Mara said, were stored under the feet of a 6-year-old girl, the daughter of 22-year-old Ismailin Lugo of Methuen, Mass. The girl was taken by child welfare officials.
Mara said it was the most heroin ever taken off the streets of Manchester in a single raid and said no one he's spoken with could recall a bigger heroin bust in recent history elsewhere in the state.
Mara said the city has experienced a spike in crime driven by drug addiction.
"This is what fuels our crime problem in Manchester," Mara said, during a news conference Thursday. "This is what fuels our burglaries. This is what fuels our robberies."
Lugo and 37-year-old Roberto Adorno of Lawrence, Mass., were charged with two counts of a controlled drug with intent to distribute and endangering the welfare of a child. Adorno was also charged with resisting arrest after a brief struggle with police as they were arresting him.
Arrested earlier at the garage were Monique Teal, 24, and 35-year-old Jon Larochelle, both of Manchester, and Bradley Tyrell, 49, of Concord.
Teal and Larochelle were charged with five counts of possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute. Teal was also charged with falsifying physical evidence, after police said she attempted to conceal a quantity of heroin while being transported.
Tyrell was charged with violation of probation.
The other four appeared in Manchester District Court on Thursday and were due to return for probable cause hearings Sept. 13. Teal, Larochelle and Adorno are being held on $100,000 bond. Lugo's bond was set at $50,000.
Police say the street value of the heroin seized is about $30,000, and described the five as suppliers, not street-level dealers.
"These people were supplying a lot of people," Mara said. "We have no illusion this one arrest is stemming the tide of drugs coming into Manchester."
Mara said the surge in heroin trafficking in Manchester and other urban areas is driven by those who become addicted to prescription pain killers, like oxycodone, but can't always afford to feed that pricey habit. He said heroin is cheaper and abundant.
The FBI and state police assisted in the investigation.
This article was originally published on August 29, 2013.
This program aired on August 29, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.