With assistance from Danvers and Lynn Police, the Massachusetts State Police broke up a large scale narcotics delivery on the North Shore last night in Peabody, arresting five men and seizing 543 pounds of marijuana and approximately $200,000 in cash.
Massachusetts State Police broke up a large scale narcotics delivery on the North Shore last night in Peabody, arresting five men and seizing 543 pounds of marijuana and approximately $200,000 in cash.
Pleading not guilty this morning at their arraignments in Peabody District Court were Brian J. Toto, 42, of Revere; Phillip Watson, 37, of Saugus; Michael Schrimpf, 36, of Saugus; RJ Norton Jr., 41, and Melvin Vanmeter, 38, of both of Indianapolis, Indiana. All of the men were charged with trafficking Class D marijuana over 200 pounds, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Judge Robert Brennan set bail at $250,000 for each defendant and continued their cases until June 18 for a status hearing.
Based on information collected by State Police Troopers assigned to the Andover Barracks, and the state police narcotics units attached to the Offices of Attorney General Martha Coakley and Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, troopers set up surveillance in the parking lot of Costco on Route 1 in Danvers Wednesday morning. At about noontime, Toto arrived in a rented truck, with Watson nearby acting as a lookout. Toto met with the occupants of a tractor trailer truck with Indiana license plates.
Troopers observed the men, and suspected they were off-loading pallets with marijuana from the tractor trailer onto the rental truck. Teams of State Troopers, agents from ICE, and Peabody police officers then followed the rental truck and the tractor trailer truck as both vehicles headed in different directions.
Police subsequently arrested Toto and Watson, along with Schrimpf, at 134R Newbury Street, Peabody, where further investigation revealed the pallets had been off-loaded. Meanwhile, another team of troopers followed the tractor trailer truck to Route 128, stopping it just before the Massachusetts Turnpike. Troopers arrested Vanmeter and Norton, and inside the truck they found approximately $200,000 in cash.
If convicted, the men face a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison, with a minimum mandatory term of three years.
Also assisting in this operation were the Danvers and Lynn Police Departments