WOONSOCKET — The Woonsocket Police Department shut down what they called a “a factory” for packaging and distributing heroin Friday, arresting three men and seizing about 200 grams of the drug, police said.
Carmelo Rojas, 35, Rafael Gonzalez, 22, and Melvin Sanchez-Santana, 21, are all charged with delivery of heroin, possession of heroin between 10 ounces and a kilogram and conspiracy, said Detective Lt. Eugene Jalette.
All are held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions pending a review hearing in District Court on Dec. 17, said Jalette.
Rojas, Gonzales and Sanchez-Santana are all Providence residents, but they were distributing large quantities of heroin from a second-floor apartment at 261 Wood Ave., the police said. The apartment was rented in Rojas’ name, but it was used for nothing more than a base of operations for the trio’s drug-delivery business, according to Jalette.
“These men were responsible for a large portion of Woonsocket’s heroin trade,” said Jalette. “They operated a 7-day-a-week business with Carmelo as the leader.”
After an investigation lasting nearly seven months, Jalette said, the Woonsocket Police Department’s undercover Vice Unit executed a search warrant at 261 Wood Aver., seizing scores of individually wrapped, glassine packets of heroin, ready for sale. The packages were made from freezer bags that were strewn ankle deep on the kitchen floor, where they were simply discarded after the usable corners were sliced off, said Jalette.
The drugs were in plain view, on a table in the kitchen of the sparsely furnished apartment, when the police went in, said Jalette. The drugs are worth an estimated $35,000 to $40,000.
During the investigation, police borrowed an officer from the Pawtucket Police Department to assist them in making undercover buys from the alleged drug dealers. This officer, whom the police did not identify, purchased heroin from all three suspects on separate occasions, Jalette said.
The undercover squad also executed a warrant Friday to search Rojas’ apartment at 591 Prairie Aver. in Providence, where they seized about $3,000 in cash, according to Jalette.
The probe revealed that the men were taking orders for drugs by phone and delivering them by car to users in Woonsocket, Bellingham and Blackstone, said Jalette. The investigation began when neighbors began complaining to police about unusually heavy traffic around Rojas’ apartment at all hours of the day and night.
“They would get a call, leave for a short time, then come back,” said Jalette. “This was a significant retail base for heroin trafficking in the city from an apartment solely rented to facilitate their drug-delivery business in this area.”
Jalette said police were planning to release news of the bust on Monday but they were sidetracked by the robbery of Bank Rhode Island on Cumberland Hill Road.