WHITMAN — Three area men are facing drug charges after search warrants were executed on Monday, April 4 by detectives assigned to the WEB Task Force at Whitman apartments identified as being the places of suspected heroin and fentanyl sales over the past several months.
“Monday’s search warrants and this operation show that the WEB Task Force and Whitman Police Department are committed to aggressively pursuing similar ‘quality of life cases,’ in which neighborhoods are overcome with daily fentanyl and heroin transactions, as well as the drug’s use,” stated a press release issued by detective Sgt. Scott Allen of the East Bridgewater Police Department. “The WEB Task Force and Whitman Police will continue to investigate anyone suspected of selling these deadly drugs. Nearly all opioid investigations currently involve fentanyl mixed with heroin or contain solely fentanyl which is packaged and sold on the streets.”
Monday’s search warrants were the culmination of an investigation that has been ongoing since just around the start of the year, according to Allen.
“WEB Task Force investigators had received information over the past several months identifying an apartment located at 309 Old South Ave., Whitman that was suspected of being utilized as a main meeting site where suspected fentanyl/heroin sales were taking place to persons from Whitman and other nearby communities,” a press release issued by Allen on Tuesday stated. “Information had been received from concerned citizens, numerous sources of information, as well as supported by approximately 10 prior Whitman Police calls for service at 309 Old South Ave.”
Over the past several months, at least five non-fatal suspected fentanyl/heroin overdoses have occurred either directly at 309 Old South Ave., or in close proximity to the residence which involved individuals identified as being associated to the investigation, according to police. During the investigation, police said a father of one of the targets of the probe reported to Whitman Police that he had been observing the same male subject he believed was selling suspected fentanyl/heroin to his son and his friends at 309 Old South Ave.
“During the investigation, a WEB undercover officer was able to initiate undercover fentanyl purchases from the person suspected as supplying fentanyl to persons at 309 Old South Ave.,” the release stated.
After making three undercover purchases of fentanyl, on March 24, WEB Task Force investigators and Whitman Police Officers arrested the target of this undercover operation, Saquaan R, Louis, 24, a listed resident of 1968 North Main St., Fall River. Louis had been identified as a former resident of the city of Brockton with prior drug offenses. WEB Task Force detectives had identified Louis as being a distributor of fentanyl, and suspected him of distributing fentanyl to persons at 309 Old South Ave, Whitman on multiple occasions.
Louis was arrested at the Route 18 Wendy’s parking lot in Whitman on March 24, in a vehicle while in possession of three bags of fentanyl that WEB investigators believed he was selling that day. Louis was arrested and arraigned at Brockton District Court for; possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl (a Class B Controlled Substance) and three counts of distribution of fentanyl (for prior sales to an undercover WEB detective in Whitman over the prior weeks). He was held on $25,000.00 bail at Brockton District Court and was last known to still being held at the Plymouth County House of Correction.
“Even after Mr. Louis’ arrest, WEB investigators continued to observe suspected drug transactions occurring at and/or from within Apt. 1 at 309 Old South Ave, Whitman,” the release stated. “Several suspects of the Whitman end of the investigation had been identified and search warrants were sought by lead WEB and Whitman Detective Peter Aitken for 309 Old South Ave., Apt. 1 and a second location, 23 ½ South Ave, 2nd floor, also inWhitman.
On Monday evening, WEB investigators executed both search warrants.
At 309 Old South Ave., investigators located and arrested one of the main Whitman suspects, Robert Barton, 23, a resident of 309 Old South Ave., Apt. 1, according to the report.
“Mr. Barton was in possession of a small quantity of heroin when detectives executed the search warrant,” the report stated.
Detectives searched Barton’s residence and located digital scales and plastic baggies consistent with being utilized to distribute quantities of fentanyl. Also seized were multiple cellular phones police believed to be used to facilitate and arrange drug sales. A significant amount of hypodermic needles and syringes were located throughout the apartment, consistent with detective’s suspicions that the apartment was being utilized by many fentanyl/heroin users to inject and use the drugs just purchased at or near that location.
Barton was arrested and transported to Whitman Police station where he was charged with; possession with the intent to distribute a Class B substance (fentanyl) and possession of a Class B controlled substance (fentanyl).
WEB detectives executed a second search warrant Monday night at the , 23 ½ South Ave, 2nd floor, Whitman. This apartment had been identified as the residence of the other target of the probe, Ryan Hooper, 23.
“Mr. Hooper had been subject to surveillance during the investigation and was suspected of being involved in fentanyl/heroin sales at 309 Old South Ave., as well,” police stated. “On March 29, and prior to search warrants having been issued, Whitman Police responded to 23 ½ South Ave. related to a call involving Mr. Hooper. During this police response, Mr. Hooper was in possession of approximately 90 or more Clonazepam pills, also known as Klonopins or ‘K–pins,’ which is a benzodiazepine, a drug frequently and dangerously abused in conjunction with heroin or fentanyl use.”
Hooper is being summoned to Brockton District Court for possession with intent to distribute a Class C controlled Substance (Clonazepam) by Whitman Police related to the March 29 offense.
“Mr. Hooper had been the main probe of the 309 Old South Ave. investigation prior to March 29 and had previously resided with Mr. Barton and/or stayed at his Old South Avenue residence during this investigation,” police stated.
Hooper was also arrested by Whitman Police on Dec. 13, 2015 for a commercial Burglary at The Smoke Shop, 27 South Ave, Whitman — a business that sells electronic cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia. Hooper was charged and arraigned for breaking and entering of a building at nighttime for a felony, assault and battery on a police officer and an assortment of drug charges as he was arrested and found in possession of numerous drugs including suspected heroin/fentanyl.
Barton was arraigned on Tuesday, April 5 at Brockton District Court. He was held on $500 cash bail, which he had not posted as of Wednesday morning. Barton is due back in court May 5. No arraignment date has been set for Hooper’s newest charge.
Louis’ offenses are pending in the pre-trial session at court.