Police arrested a North Reading man on Thursday and charged him with multiple drug charges after a lengthy drug investigation by detectives. A second North Reading man was also charged with cocaine possession.
Police arrested Richard "Ricky" J. Ward, 57, 101 Lowell Road, North Reading, and charged him on one count of trafficking cocaine, five counts of distributing cocaine (subsequent offenses), one count of possessing a Class D substance (marijuana) with the intent to distribute (subsequent offense), two counts of drug violations near a park, one count of possessing a Class B substance (Percocet) (subsequent offense) and one count of possessing a Class E substance (steroids), and Edward Conron, 140 Park St., North Reading, and charged him with possessing a Class B substance (cocaine).
Police said the investigation focused on Ward distributing drugs at 235 Main St., which is the location of China Cuisine. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said on Friday that two counts of cocaine and a pound of marijuana were seized.
“This investigation has now resulted in the arrest of an individual we allege was engaged in cocaine distribution over an extended period, and the seizure of several different types of illegal drugs, including cocaine with a street value of thousands of dollars,” Ryan said. “This case required close cooperation between different agencies, including the North Reading Police, the regional task force, and State Police detectives. The careful, patient work of these officers led to this result, and shows what we can accomplish when we work together.”According to the DA's office:
"In December 2013, North Reading Police initiated an investigation into allegations that Ward was selling cocaine out of the China Cuisine Restaurant, located at 235 Main Street, North Reading. The investigation revealed that Ward, who was not employed by or otherwise officially associated with the China Cuisine Restaurant, frequented the restaurant’s bar area on an almost daily basis and remained there for up to eight hours per day.
"In January of 2014, detectives from the North Reading Police Department, with the assistance of Troopers from the Massachusetts State Police and detectives assigned to the Southern Middlesex Regional Drug Task Force, conducted surveillance of Ward and his activities at the China Cuisine Restaurant. Posing as patrons of the restaurant and drug customers, undercover detectives made purchases of cocaine directly from Ward.
"These purchases of cocaine took place inside of a restroom of the China Cuisine restaurant, or from Ward’s vehicle, which was located in the parking lot of the China Cuisine Restaurant.
"On Thursday May 15, 2014, Ward allegedly made two separate sales of cocaine from the China Cuisine Restaurant to undercover detectives. North Reading Police, with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, then moved in and placed Ward under arrest. Ward gave permission for detectives to search his apartment at 101 Lowell Road, Apt. #301, North Reading, MA.
"There they found approximately two ounces of cocaine, cutting agents typically associated with the sale of cocaine, approximately one pound of marijuana, prescription oxycodone pills, and anabolic steroids. Ward’s residence is located next to the Rita J. Mullin Recreational Park, a public park in the town of North Reading," according to the DA's office.
Ward was arraigned in Woburn District Court on Friday. He is being held on $20,000 cash bail, according to North Reading Police.
Conron was arraigned on Friday and released on $100 bail. He is due back in court on Aug. 6 for a pre-trial conference.
"I am extremely proud of the diligent, patient work performed by our North Reading Police Detectives," said Police Chief Michael Murphy. "This was a long case that developed over a period of several months that has removed a drug dealer from the community of North Reading. We will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who thinks that they can deal drugs in our community...
"With the partnerships we have formed, and the resource we can bring to bear, anyone who thinks it's a good idea to test the drug trade in our communities should think twice. This level of cooperation goes far in helping us achieve the results we saw today."