Vineyard judge sends Jamaica Plain man to prison

Steve Myrick

A Jamaica Plain man who skipped bail while awaiting trial will go to state prison, after a jury convicted him of trafficking in heroin and cocaine on Martha’s Vineyard.

Dukes County Superior Court Judge C. J. Moriarty sentenced Jose Luis Arias, 24, to a 7- to 8-year term in state prison on the heroin charge and a concurrent term of 5- to 8 years for trafficking cocaine. Both sentences are mandatory minimum sentences under Massachusetts law.

The jury returned the guilty verdicts shortly after 5 pm Monday, April 30.

Mr. Arias was one of two men arrested in November, 2009, just after they walked off a Steamship Authority ferry in Vineyard Haven.

The pair, apparently realizing they were walking into an arrest, tried to leave the terminal area in a taxi.

Police seized 105 grams of heroin, and 79 grams of cocaine from the suspects that day. The estimated value of the drugs is $28,000 if sold retail.

State Police Sgt. Jeff Stone, who heads the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force made the arrests with the help of Tisbury Police.

“The reason this 2009 case is coming to trial three years later is because Mr. Arias was in default,” Laura Marshard, Cape and Island assistant district attorney, said.

After his arrest here, Mr. Arias was later arrested in New Hampshire on a narcotics charge. After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge in that state, Massachusetts State Police took custody and returned him to the Dukes County jail, where he was held until this week’s trial.

“It appears that he was just one operative in this drug operation,” Ms. Marshard said. “He was held accountable. I hope it’s a deterrent. It’s very disheartening that Martha’s Vineyard has become fertile ground for drug sales. It appears that his only ties to this Island were to come here to sell cocaine and heroin. Thanks to Sergeant Stone, we were able to make a dent in the Island drug trade.”

Also arrested with Mr. Arias was Wilken Ariaz-Baez, subject of a detainee order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was deported shortly after the arrest.