Once a man’s world, the underbelly of drug trafficking is resurfacing in once-peaceful neighborhoods. Massachusetts police recently raided an Easthampton apartment and arrested two female residents for narcotics trafficking and possession. While this is not an isolated incident in the increasingly criminal neighborhood of Pleasant Street, it certainly adds to the problem. Police alleged that Marcella Severance, 54, was the head of the operation. Police charged Severance with trafficking up to 100 grams of cocaine. At market value, the cocaine is worth nearly $4,800. Heather Martinez, 39, was charged with two counts of class B substance possession, Percocet and Suboxone, without a prescription.
Since January, police has recorded two cases of drug overdoses on Pleasant Street alone. Accordingly, Easthampton police and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Anti-Crime Task Force commenced their investigation and are hoping to make more drug-related arrests.
How Does Massachusetts Law Treat Cocaine Possession?
The law on drugs is clear in Massachusetts. One-time possession of cocaine, a class “B” substance, racks up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, according to MGL Chap.94C, Sect.34. In addition, the cocaine possessor also automatically loses his license for one year. If you are convicted of cocaine possession for the first time you could face up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1000.
In terms of cocaine possession with intent to distribute, M.G.L. Chapter 94C Section 32A states that offenders will receive a 2 ½ year jail sentence and a fine of not less than $1,000 and up to $10,000. Recidivist offenders may face up to 3 years in state prison, a maximum sentence of 10 years, a $2,500 to $25,000 fine, and a mandatory 3 year license suspension.
According to MGL Chapt. 94C, Sect. 32E, 14-28 grams of cocaine warrant at least three and at most 15 years in state prison. If an individual is caught with 28 and up to 100 grams of cocaine, he or she may be imprisoned for five to twenty years. For 100 grams or more, but less than two hundred grams, the prison term becomes 10-20 years in state prison.
In this scenario, the drug operation’s ringleader possessed 97 grams of cocaine, and she may face up to 20 years in prison. However, a portion of her sentence may be mitigated if she can help police get more leads.
Public Policy Concerns
The public policy concerns inherent in the war on drugs are that it simply does not seem to end anytime soon. From marijuana sales among teens to large-scale operations, drug trafficking does not discriminate among race or educational background. Thus, law enforcement does not shy from bursting into apartments, even ones inhabited by single women, or families, because enough cause has been shown in their investigations. Drug abuse will remain the black sheep of American society, and the means to get drugs are more accessible than ever.