Recently in Drug Crimes Category

October 1, 2014

Odor of Unburnt Marijuana Does Not Provide Police Probable Cause to Search Car

In the case of Commonwealth v. Overmyer, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court considered whether the smell of 'unburnt marijuana' provides police officers with probable cause to believe there is more than (the legal) one ounce to justify a search of the car without a search warrant. The court ruled that, no, the mere smell of unburnt marijuana does NOT justify a search.

In this case, police officers responded to a motor vehicle accident. On scene, the officers smelled "a very strong odor of unburnt marijuana near" the defendant's car. In response to questioning by the police officers, the defendant admitted that marijuana was present in the car and gave the keys to the glove compartment to the police. Inside, there was a "fat bag" of marijuana. Because the odor of unburnt marijuana persisted, a further search was conducted and more marijuana in a backpack in the backseat.

As a result, this defendant was charged with possession with intent to distribute a class D substance and school zone violation.

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September 8, 2013

Boston Man Charged with Drug Dealing in Weymouth

A 20 year old man from Boston was arrested this past Thursday on Massachusetts Drug Charges in Weymouth. He was charged with Drug Distribution, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws, and Resisting Arrest.

According to the Weymouth Police Department, the defendant was alleged to have engaged in a drug transaction with a Weymouth man at a home on Pierce Road. That man was arrested on similar drug charges. Police had received tips about alleged drug dealing at that address.

One of the most important steps in defending any drug case is evaluating the specific facts and circumstances involving the person's arrest. Anyone who has been the subject of a search to their person or property by police can challenge that search under the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

If a challenge to the search of the person and the seizure of contraband is successful, then the court can suppress or exclude whatever item was seized as a result of the constitutional violation. For example, if the police stopped someone on the street and search them without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, then the drugs, guns or whatever else illegal was recovered could be thrown out of the case.

Cases involving searches and seizures depend on very specific fact patterns and legal issues. It is important that you have a qualified and experienced attorney evaluate your case and examine any constitutional issues very closely.

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December 25, 2012

Passenger Entering Logan Arrested for Drug Trafficking After Cocaine Found in Wheelchair

A man entering attempting to enter the country through Boston's Logan Airport was arrested for Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges after 4 kilo's of cocaine were found in his wheelchair.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the passenger had a cast on his leg and was in a wheelchair, but airport security suspected he did not need the wheelchair for any medical reason. Security x-rayed the wheelchair and also drilled a hole in one of the chair's tire, revealing approximately 4 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the tires and frame of the wheelchair.

Prosecutors also reported that the man was taken to Whidden Memorial Hospital and his leg with the cast was x-rayed. Doctors then told police that the man allegedly did not need a cast.

Drug Trafficking of 200 grams in Massachusetts or more of Cocaine is punishable with commitment to state prison for a term of not less than 15 years and up to 20 years.

The defendant, Emmanuelli Rojas-Moraza, of Puerto Rico, was arraigned last Friday in East Boston District Court and was held on $45,000 bail.

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November 27, 2012

Undercover Boston Police Officers Arrest Quincy Man on Drug Charges

Boston Police Drug Control Unit Officers arrested a man from Quincy and another from West Roxbury last week on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges.

Both men where arrested for Unlawful Possession of a Class A Substance, Heroin.

According to the Boston Police Department, officers were conducting undercover surveillance in the area of CVS in Roslindale, which they allege is a high drug transaction area. The officers reportedly recognized the Quincy man and followed him to West Roxbury, where he allegedly met another man.

That second individual allegedly got into the Quincy man's car and drove off. After allegedly committing traffic violations, Boston Police officers stopped the car and allegedly observed a package of heroin on the driver's side floor.

Massachusetts Drug Crime Arrests come in a variety of different contexts, but the motor vehicle stop is one of the most common. Police officers conducting undercover drug surveillance must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has or is being committed before they can pull a car over.

Often times, however, where their observations does not meet the requisite level to justify a stop based on suspicion of a drug transaction, police will follow the car and pull it over for a "traffic violation". Even though the police officers' real intention in pulling the car over is to investigate for the presence of drugs, using a traffic stop to justify pulling the car over is lawful.

In any type of drug case, whether the result of a vehicle stop, street encounter, or search warrant, the specific facts justifying the police officer's Search and Seizure of the person should be heavily scrutinized and, in most cases, challenged on constitutional grounds by way of a motion to suppress.

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September 28, 2012

Massachusetts Drug Lab Scandal: How Defendants Were Affected and What Can Be Done

The Massachusetts Department of Health Lab in Jamaica Plain (William A. Hinton Drug Laboratory) was ordered shut down by the governor a few weeks ago when it was discovered that at least one of the chemists at the lab allegedly engaged in malfeasance and violation of protocol with drug samples in criminal cases. The drug lab handled several thousand drug samples seized from criminal drug arrests in multiple counties, including Suffolk County, Middlesex County (until 2009), Bristol County, Worcester County and Norfolk County.

By way of background, when the police seized drugs in criminal cases, the drugs were ultimately sent to the DPH drug lab for testing and confirmation that the substance was, in fact, the certain controlled substance it was thought to be. At the lab, each drug sample was analyzed by one chemist, whose results were then checked by another chemist.

As it turns out, one of the supervising chemists is alleged to have engaged in intentional violation of protocol by tampering with evidence bags; altering the weight of drugs; not calibrating the drug testing machines properly; and even altering drug samples so that they would test as drugs when they were not! This particular chemist, who was employed by the DPH drug lab in Jamaica Plain from 2003 to 2012, is believed to have been involved with as many as 60,000 samples and 182,000 criminal drug cases.

Even more disturbing, the analyst under investigation, considered a 'supervisor', had unsupervised access to the drug safe and evidence room, theoretically calling into questioned every single drug case that passed through the Jamaica Plain drug lab, even where she was not directly responsible for the testing of those samples.

Obviously, this discovery creates a very serious problem as defendants who were charge with a Massachusetts Drug Crime were potentially prosecuted with tainted and/or fabricated drug evidence and leading to erroneous convictions and in some cases, deportation from the United States.

Since the governor ordered the lab closed and the matter referred for investigation, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are scrambing to determine which cases were affected. Many defense attorneys like myself, have been pulling old files out of storage in an effort to identify all defendants whose cases might have been affected in any way.

So who is affected and what should they do?

Any person who was charged with a Massachusetts Drug Crime whose case resulted in a conviction or plea is potentially affected and they should contact an attorney, particularly any individual who was recently convicted and is currently serving a prison/jail sentence as a result of that drug conviction.

Depending on each defendant's individual circumstances, there are various options that should be considered:

  • Defendants convicted of a drug crime should consider a Motion for New Trial, which would essentially vacate the conviction. Where the defendant is currently serving a sentence as a result of a potentially tainted drug conviction, there could also be the possibility that the person is released from custody and otherwise file a Motion to Stay their sentence.
  • Defendants who pled guilty to a Massachusetts drug crime should consider a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea.
  • Defendants who have received any disposition short of a dismissal or acquittal, for instance, persons who admitted sufficient facts and their case was Continued Without a Finding ("CWOF") and placed on probation, should also consider a Motion to Withdraw their plea.
Though attorneys on all sides of the issues are working to identity whose cases may have been affected, the list is long and time consuming. For this reason, if you believe your Massachusetts drug case may have been impacted by this you should contact an attorney for assistance.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defendant Massachusetts Drug Crimes and is available 24/7 for a free consultation if you were affected by the DPH Drug Lab Scandal.

Click Here to contact a Massachusetts Drug Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

August 1, 2012

Norwood Police Arrest 3 on Massachusetts Drug Charges

cocaine.jpgThe Norwood Police Department last week arrested 3 men on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges who they claim to be key suppliers for drugs in the Town of Norwood.

The 3 men, one from Boston, Quincy and Fall River, were all arrested following a drug investigation with several 'controlled drug purchases' in Norwood that also led to a drug house in Randolph. All three men were charged with Drug Trafficking in Cocaine and Heroin and Conspiracy to Violate the Massachusetts Drug Laws.

Drug Trafficking in Massachusetts is defined as the knowing or intentional manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to distribute certain net weights of controlled substances. The penalties for a conviction for drug trafficking varies depending on the weight and the alleged substance.

For instance, a conviction for Trafficking in Cocaine of 14 to 28 grams carries a sentence of not less than 3 and up to 15 years in state prison; while Trafficking in Heroin of 14 to 28 grams carries a sentence of not less than 5 and up to 20 years in state prison.

There are many potential issues that must be explored and researched an a defense involving a drug crime. Some issues, such as a challenging the probable cause in the issuance of a search warrant or challenging an unlawful search and seizure could be dispositive in the defendants case by getting the drugs suppressed or thrown out. Other times, particularly where controlled buys were employed by the police and the identity of the alleged 'dealer' may be in question, the defense may turn on challenging the defendant's access to or possession of the drugs, even if he resided in the home and/or if the drugs were located in a common area.

On their face, many drug cases may appear to be total losers, with the defendant having no chance of beating the charges. A skillful attorney, with knowledge of the law and possible legal arguments, could often be the difference between a defendant serving 3-15 years and either getting his case dismissed or winning at trial.

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May 22, 2012

Boston City Workers Charged With Massachusetts Drug Crimes

Two Boston city employees were arraigned this morning on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges following their arrest last friday. Each were charged with Drug Distribution; Unlawful Drug Possession; School Zone Violation; and Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, one of the city workers was employed as a Boston parking enforcement officer and the other, while the other was employed as a Boston crossing guard.

Boston Police were reportedly conducting surveillance when they allegedly observed the parking enforcement officer, while in uniform, enter a vehicle and then get out with his fist clenched. Police allegedly recovered two percocet pills when he was later stopped and searched.

In cases such as these, it is critical that the defense scrutinizes the facts that the police purportedly relied upon in justifying their stopping and then searching anyone alleged to be involved in a drug transaction. A person charged with a Massachusetts Drug Crime will certainly want to consider challenging whether the police had reasonable suspicion or even probable cause to initiate a search. A successful constitutional challenge on these grounds could lead to the drugs and other evidence being 'suppressed' or thrown out, without which there might not be any evidence for the prosecution to go forward.

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April 3, 2012

Boston Man Arrested for Drug Trafficking Charges in Braintree

A Boston man and woman from Dedham were arrested by Braintree Police Officers this yesterday on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges in what police are calling a "month-long investigation."

Aris W. Veras, 35, of Boston, and Luz M. Cepeda, 29, of Dedham, have both been charged with Drug Trafficking, Distribution of Heroin and Cocaine, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs.

According to the Braintree Police, search warrants were executed for two cars and a home in Dedham when an undercover police officer allegedly purchased drugs from Veras and Cepeda. Following the alleged transaction to the undercover police officer, both were arrested on drug charges.

The search warrant on the home in Dedham, alleged to be Cepedas, reportedly yielded additional drugs, including cocaine and heroin; drug packaging materials, and cash.

Although at first glance these circumstances may seem unbeatable, there are truly many intricacies and legal issues that surround a case like this. Any seasoned criminal defense attorney defending a case of this nature would certainly look to the specific details of the alleged drug sale, including who, specifically was involved and how the drug sale was allegedly transacted.

Additionally, that a search warrant was executed on Cepeda's home may not necessarily be fatal to Vera's defense, particularly if police cannot establish a strong link between him and the home - such as no evidence that he was ever seen near the home, let alone believed to have engaged in the selling of drugs at or near the residence. The search warrant should also be carefully scrutinized to ensure that it was properly issued based on the requisite probable cause. If not, the search warrant could be thrown out and any evidence recovered from the search could be excluded.

The penalties for Drug Trafficking in Massachusetts vary depending on the alleged drug in question and how much 'weight' was allegedly distributed. For instance, for cocaine, trafficking cocaine between 14 and 28 grams could result in a prison sentence of 3 to 15 years; while over 200 grams could result in a sentence of 15-20 years.

The penalties for Drug Trafficking Heroin in Massachusetts, however, are more severe. 14-28 grams could result in a sentence of 5-20 years; while trafficking over 200 grams of heroin could also result in a state prison sentence of 15-20 years.

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January 10, 2012

4 Charged with Massachusetts Drug Trafficking Over 75 Pounds of Marijuana

Lowell Police yesterday arrested four people on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges in connection with the seizure of 75 pounds of marijuana and 2 guns.

Phaly Chhoeun, 28; Samnang Sath, 34; Sanith Siv, 35; and Mao Keo, 33, all of Lowell, are each facing charges of Drug Trafficking; Drug School Zone Violation; and Conspiracy to Violate the Massachusetts Drug Laws.

Mao Keo is also charged with Massachusetts Gun Charges and being an Armed Career Criminal.

The drug investigation by the Lowell Police Department that led to these arrests came after police executed a search warrant at an apartment in Lowell.

In many drug cases where search warrants are involved, police will often have to rely on a period of undercover surveillance of the target location and the suspected individuals believed to be involved. Sometimes police will also employ undercover police officers, but most often they will rely on confidential informants who will conduct 'controlled drug buys' with the individuals.

In drug investigation where police believe that drugs are being sold from a particular location but are unsure of the identity of the individuals involved, the use of confidential informants becomes even more important. Sometimes, however, police will be reluctant to reveal the identity of the confidential informants, even at trial, and this could sometimes prove advantageous to the defense.

In every case involving search warrants in drug cases, the application for the search warrant should be scrutinized extremely carefully for any deficiencies. In some cases, the probable cause necessary for the issuance of the search warrant may be lacking, and the person may have meritorious challenge in getting the drugs excluded (by filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence).

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November 9, 2011

Protester at Occupy Boston Arrested on Drug Charges

Adam Brisbois, 28, of Boston, was arrested at the South Station on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges yesterday after allegedly selling pills to undercover Boston Police officers.

Brisbois, who was reportedly living at the Occupy Boston camp in Dewey Square, allegedly sold clonodine pills to undercover Boston officers in a bathroom at the South Station bus terminal.

He was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs and is scheduled to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court this morning.

According to the Boston Police Department, there has been an increase in "drug activity" near the Occupy Boston / South Station area.

The Massachusetts Drug Crime of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance criminalizes the distribution and/or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections or up to 10 years in state prison.

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October 11, 2011

Boston Police Target Convenience Store Owner for Selling 'Drug Paraphernalia'

The Boston Police Department and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino recently announced that they are targeting convenience store owners, primarily in Roxbury, who allegedly sell drug paraphernalia, such as "crack pipe kits", and charging them with violating the Massachusetts Drug Crimes Laws.

The investigation was reportedly initiated after complaints from the neighborhood that the stores selling these items would attract too many drug users and addicts.

In all, the Boston Police Department reportedly focused their attention on 14 locations and seized various items the store owners were selling to customers, including 'crack kits', illegal poker machines, Viagra pills, glass smoking pipes, and other items that drug users can allegedly use to support their habit.

14 store owner will reportedly be summonsed and charged with violating the Massachusetts Drugs Laws.

What is interesting about this case is that it appears many of the items that were reportedly being sold are not, in and of themselves, illegal. An item, for example, that could be used for legal purposes and sold lawfully, is now considered to be 'drug paraphernalia' by the Boston Police, subjecting these store owners to arrest and prosecution.

But the question that will inevitably be posed in most, if not all, of these cases, if it's legal to sell the item, then how can the proprietor be prosecuted criminally where it's the buyer who then elects to use the item for unlawful purposes?

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September 26, 2011

Randolph Man Charged with Drug Dealing in Quincy

Destin Jean, 22 of Randolph, was arraigned in Quincy District Court this morning on several Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges, including Drug Trafficking.

He had also previously been charged in Quincy on Gun Crimes Charges as well as Larceny of a Motor Vehicle and Leaving the Scene of an Accident.

According to the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office, Destin Jean was arrested following the execution of a search warrant after he had reportedly been the subject of a 'month long investigation' of alleged drug crimes.

In many types of these 'investigation' cases, police officers often typically engage confidential informants to purportedly conduct a few 'controlled drug buys' from a person suspected of dealing in narcotics from their home or other residence. Often times, the police themselves never enter into the home but rely almost exclusively on the representations of these 'confidential informants'.

The confidential informants, meanwhile, are most often individuals who themselves have gotten or sometimes are currently in trouble with the police, and offer to provide information for lenient treatment in their present (or sometimes anticipated future) criminal matters.

In applying for the Search Warrant, the police almost never reveal the true identity of the confidential informant, but rather refer to him/her by code name, for instance, CI12, or "AJAX". Ultimately, once the warrant is executed, the police hope to find evidence of criminal conduct and be able to establish a direct link to that criminal conduct to the person targeted in the investigations.

Sometimes, however, the government's case could turn out to be a 'dud', particularly if the person arrested did not reside in the own; had no personal belongings within that might establish his residence there; had no independent access to the home without another person; had not previously been seen at or near the home; or if several or more persons could have also had access to the alleged criminal instrumentalities seized.

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September 2, 2011

Arlington Man Arrested on Drug Charges After 111 Marijuana Plants Found in Home

Arlington pot bust.jpgJonathan M. Pore, of Arlington, was arrested on Massachusetts Drug Charges after Arlington Police found 111 marijuana plants in his home this week. Pore was arraigned this morning in Cambridge District Court and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance.

According to the Cambridge Police Department and the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, the apartment allegedly belonging to Pore was searched yesterday and allegedly found to contain 111 marijuana plants, about 46 pounds, with a reported street value of over $120,000. Police also allegedly seized $6,300 and 3 scales.

It's unclear whether Jonathan Pore was present when the apartment was searched; whether there were any other occupants present and/or if anyone else resides in the home; nor what led police to focus a drug investigation on Pore and/or the apartment.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defending persons charged with Massachusetts Drug Crimes, and is available 24/7 for consultation.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Massachusetts Drug Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Attorney Lefteris K. Travayiakis may also be reached at

August 9, 2011

Quincy Bartender Arrested for Drug Distribution

Emily McCarthy, a bartender at Paddy Barry's Bar in Quincy, was arrested last week on Massachusetts Drug Charges after she allegedly sold pills during her shift. She was arraigned in Quincy District Court on the charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs.

According to the Quincy Police Department, an officer working a detail on Hancock Street allegedly observed Emily McCarthy engage in a suspect drug transaction with a truck that had pulled up to the bar. Although the officer apparently admitted not seeing what, specifically, was exchanged, based on his 'training and experience', he believed that a drug sale had just occurred.

After the truck left, the officer requested other officers to stop the truck and during questioning about the meeting with McCarthy, the driver, John Saturno of Milton, allegedly told police that he had lent McCarthy $40. The Quincy Police, however, searched the truck and allegedly seized 100 pills of Gabapentin. Meanwhile, Emily McCarthy was approached by officers as well. She was searched and from her person police allegedly seized 12 oxycodone pills.

Based on this information, it is very apparent that officers had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause whatsoever to believe that a drug transaction had occurred. There was therefore no constitutional basis for the officer to justify any stop and search of any of the parties involved. The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that ever person be free from warrantless searches and seizures without the requisite level of suspicion.

Accordingly, it appears that all parties who were arrested in this case have tremendously strong issues in support of challenging the Search & Seizure and the Quincy Police Department's actions in this case. If successfully on such a constitutional challenge to a violation of their rights, all the evidence in this case should be 'suppressed' or thrown out.

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July 27, 2011

Natick Man Charged with Drug Crimes out of Framingham

Luis Hernandez, 41, of Natick, was arrested this past week and charged with Massachusetts Drug Crimes Violations following a 'month-long' investigation in Framingham. Hernandez was charged with Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance; Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs; Conspiracy to Violate the Massachusetts Drug Laws and Resisting Arrest.

According to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, Natick Police allegedly observed Luis Hernandez engage in a drug transaction from the parking lot of his Natick apartment. Police then followed the alleged buyers, Gina Stucchi and William Roberts, to a parking lot in Framingham off Route 9 and allegedly observed them attempting to himself with cocaine or heroin. One of the passengers in the car, Maria Woods, allegedly told police they had purchased the drugs from Luis Hernandez.

Natick Police stopped Luis Hernandez sometime thereafter and he allegedly admitted to having drugs in the car, as well as drugs in a safe in his apartment. Officers then searched Hernandez' apartment and allegedly recovered cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

Seems too easy for the police doesn't it? Imagine how simple it was for everyone involved to admit their criminal culpability, make statements implicating themselves in drug dealing, while at the same time providing police with the probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of an apartment. There must be more, or less, to this story...

At the end of the day, in almost every case my clients are involved with, I almost always get the same statement from the client: "I never told the police that!" Discrepancies concerning any alleged statements are to be taken very seriously, particularly where the client/defendant denies making any statements in the first place. For that reason, I always advise clients to err on the side of caution and invoke their Right to Remain Silent or Privilege Against Self-Incrimination.

Regardless, all other persons involved in this investigation were arrested on various Drug Crimes Charges.

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