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Berkshire DA Shugrue alarmed after Pittsfield drug bust included 90 grams of meth

Berkshire District Attorney Timothy Shugrue announced last week that his office was prosecuting a suspect arrested in a Pittsfield, Massachusetts drug bust on January 10th. According to Shugrue, a search warrant executed at 29 Alden Avenue by state and local police led to the arrest of Alan Ramos and the seizure of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine estimated to be worth over $30,000 on the street. Ramos could face up to 20 years in state prison on drug trafficking charges along with a concurrent, separate charge of domestic assault. He was held on $100,000 bail. Shugrue said the 90 grams of meth seized in the bust was the most he’d seen in Western Massachusetts, although 2,500 grams were seized last August in a Springfield bust as the drug continues to take a toll around the country. The DA, who took office this month, spoke with WAMC.

SHUGRUE: First off, this is the first time we've ever seen crystal meth that actually got into Berkshire County. And we're seeing it statewide, there's more crystal meth coming back to the Massachusetts area. We haven't really ever seen crystal meth as a big danger to our community. It usually wasn't one that was something we ever really had to worry about. And this is, this is a lot. This is 90 grams of crystal meth. And on top of that, so it's trafficking, with the methamphetamines, and then on top of that, he had 45 grams of heroin, which is a five-year minimum mandatory. The methamphetamine is a three and a half year minimum mandatory, the heroin carries from five to 30 years, the methamphetamine carries three and a half to 20. And then the other one is the possession of cocaine, which is the two-year minimum mandatory to 15. So, between the, all three of them, you've got at least 10 and a half years’ worth of minimum mandatory sentences from an individual’s coming in, who's originally from Dominican Republic, and there was $6,000 in cash. And the house appeared to have been set up to be a manufacturing plant. So, they had, he had all these baggies ready to go, he had 20 bags that each had 100 bags- 20 boxes, they each had 100 bags in it. So, 2000 of packaging material. These would have been broken down into that and then sold individually. So, the street value of this about $31,500. So, it's a pretty significant distribution center. And the fact of the matter was, we hadn't seen you know, crystal meth coming into the Berkshires. I've never seen that much in my entire life. And it’s just unique. So luckily, the between the Pittsfield Police and the state police, they had done an investigation and which led to a search warrant which led to the arrest of this individual.

WAMC: Can you break down how exactly your office plans to bring charges against the suspects involved and the use of cash bail in this instance?

Well, we use we used cash bail pursuant to the statute. The statute indicates that if we have a feeling that a person is not going to be able to, is not going to return and they may be a flight risk- In this particular case, for example, the individual is not a United States citizen, and he's here on a green card and his potential for flight is significant, especially when you're looking at it at least 10 and a half years minimum mandatory. We also looked at that he had pending charges. He has four open assault batteries on a 17-year-old, that were pending, and they were very serious assault batteries. So is his bail was revoked on that particular charge because he was out on bail when he committed these new offenses. And so that is a factor to make the determination of bail as well. And the fact that he had very limited ties, family ties- He had two to supposedly brothers in there and his girlfriend, and the girlfriend is the one that, where the distribution center was coming out of the house. So, there were a number of factors that led to the requirements that allow us to ask for cash bail in a circumstance where we don't believe this person is going to show back up, that he's a serious flight risk. And he's someone that we're concerned about his appearance due to the fact that- and he committed new offense when he was on out on bail, and while he was, even before he committed this new offense, he was also brought to court in December for violating the conditions of his [assault and battery] case on his release from the court before for trying to contact the alleged victim. So, with those factors being in place, we felt that, there was a strong possibility that he was – and I still believe it, and so do the police – that he's not an individual that would show back up. So that's the reason why for the high bail and the reason why his bail got revoked because he committed a new offense, allegedly, while he's been out on bail on the underlying charge. We asked for a dangerousness hearing in the first case, because it was a very serious case. He strangled the girl, choked her, she was only 17. And he wasn't held on dangerousness then. And then lo and behold, less than two months later, he's now caught with a significant amount of drugs and three trafficking charges and various types of narcotics, from meth through coke through heroin. So, this is a person that should be held pending the resolution of his case. And that's why we asked the court to do it.

I wanted to clarify one of the comments you made in the press release about the bust, and you've referenced it in our conversation, about in 36 years of your work in the legal world never seeing this amount of meth, and not only in Berkshire County, but in Western Massachusetts. It bears noting that last summer in Springfield, there was a seizure of 2,500 grams of meth in Springfield, which is considerably larger than the 90 this bust is related to. Can you sort of clarify the disparity there?

Well, because, that's, like I said, I quoted it by saying what I said. I haven't seen that, and I hadn't seen that, and the troopers I talked to here hadn’t seen it. So that's why we said that I have not seen that, and that's why it was significant for Berkshire County. And I asked the local police and the state police and they hadn't seen it. So, that's why we indicated that that's a lot of meth coming into Berkshire County for us. And you know, we're not Springfield, but this is still- We're trying to protect our community and we hadn't seen many grams of meth come in our county.

So, you're saying that the meth is a sort of new development in what the legal community here has encountered?

Yeah, I think we're going to see more meth coming into the community. That's why we wanted to address it.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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