Six nabbed in Tisbury raid, charged with heroin trafficking
Three members of the Garde family of Tisbury were taken by ambulance from the Dukes County Courthouse Wednesday morning, minutes after three of the family's adult children, along with three other suspects, were arraigned on charges of running a heroin distribution operation out of the Garde family home at 139 Spring Street in Vineyard Haven.
The handsome, spare, and historic courtroom lapsed into chaos moments after presiding Associate Justice Lance Garth left the bench, when Caleb Garde, who faces the most serious charges, collapsed in the defendants' dock. As emergency medical personnel attended to Caleb Garde, Ken Garde, the family patriarch, collapsed in front of the public seating area in the rear of the courtroom. And, the drama expanded, as eventually a third member of the family, Daniel Garde, also arraigned earlier on heroin charges, was transported away from the courthouse by ambulance.
Photos by Steve Myrick
More than a dozen police officers and ambulance personnel from Edgartown and Oak Bluffs responded to the frantic and alarming scene. Emergency responders maneuvered stretchers up a narrow, winding back staircase to the second-floor courtroom in the antiquated building, as distraught family members confronted photographers and court officers cleared the courtroom. Defendants in other cases, people called to court for arraignment, and citizens called to jury duty wandered inside and outside the courthouse, some curious, some stunned by the extraordinary scene.
All three members of the Garde family were taken to Martha's Vineyard Hospital for evaluation, where police officers who were involved in the investigation and arrests early Tuesday evening guarded Caleb and Daniel Garde. Both had been ordered held on bail by Judge Garth.
Tension in the court
It was a tense scene in the courtroom even before the arraignments, as the defendants sat together in the dock, hands and feet in manacles. Caleb Garde complained to court officers of feeling ill, and several times during the proceeding, he leaned over and spit toward the floor. Ken Garde entered the courtroom walking slowly, with the aid of a cane. He and his wife Nina were overcome several times as charges against their children were outlined in court. They sat, sometimes with heads in hands, sometimes quietly sobbing in the front row of the public seating area, consoled by their daughter Rebecca Garde.
Assistant district attorney Laura Marshard leveled the most serious charges against Caleb Garde, age 24, who lives in his parents' Vineyard Haven house.
According to Ms. Marshard, at the time of his arrest, Caleb Garde was cutting heroin from large to small quantities with a razor knife. She said police seized 127 grams, or nearly 4.5 ounces, of heroin. They also seized two scales with heroin residue on them, and more than $40,000 in cash. He was charged with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to violate drug laws, possession of heroin, and dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, child center, or public park. The Garde family home, where the arrests were made and the drugs seized, is located just off the parking lot and playing fields of the Tisbury School, and next to a local day care center. The minimum mandatory jail sentence for heroin trafficking is 10 years in state prison. The minimum penalty for dealing drugs near a school is two years behind bars.
Ms. Marshard asked Judge Garth to set bail for Caleb Garde at $60,000. Attorney Charles Morano, who represented all of the suspects during the bail hearing, asked for lesser bail, noting Caleb Garde had no prior criminal convictions.
Judge Garth ordered Caleb Garde held on $50,000 cash bail.
Daniel Garde, 19, was arrested in a separate bedroom of the Garde home, in possession of 18 grams of marijuana and more than $500 in cash, according to the prosecutor. He was charged with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of heroin, and possession of prescription drugs. He also faces charges of possessing ammunition, without a valid firearms identification card, and dealing drugs near a school. He was ordered held on $6,000 cash bail.
Hannah Garde, 22, was charged with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to violate drug laws, and dealing drugs near a school. According to the prosecutor, at the time of her arrest she was in possession of a scale, plastic bags commonly used to package drugs, and a small amount of heroin. Ms. Marshard asked for $5,000 cash bail, but Judge Garth more than doubled that amount, and ordered her held on $12,000 cash bail.
Garret Gibson, 24, described by police as a resident of Oak Bluffs, was charged with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy, and drug dealing near a school. According the prosecutor, Mr. Gibson was arrested in the same room as Caleb Garde, and possessed a small bag of heroin. He was ordered held on $15,000 cash bail.
Also arrested in the same room of the Garde home as Caleb Garde was Alexander Carlson, 21, described by police as a resident of Edgartown. Ms. Marshard told the judge he possessed three bags of heroin. Mr. Carlson was charged with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy, and dealing drugs near a school. He was ordered held on $6,000 cash bail.
A sixth suspect, described in court as Caleb Garde's girlfriend, was arrested as she fled from the Garde home in her car. The prosecutor said Rosaline Gaspar, 24, arrived at the home as police were executing the search warrant, and immediately drove off at high speed. She was apprehended about two blocks away. Ms. Gaspar, who was a named target of the search warrant, was charged with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy, and dealing drugs near a school. Judge Garth ordered her held on $25,000 cash bail.
A year-long investigation
The arrests came after nearly a year of investigation by the Martha's Vineyard Drug Task Force, according to state police Sgt. Jeff Stone. He said Caleb Garde was the main target of the investigation.
Police officers from all six Island towns, assisted by other uniformed Tisbury officers, and a K-9 officer and his dog from off-Island, approached the Garde home to execute the search warrant at 6:05 pm Tuesday. In all, 13 different officers took part in the operation.
While still taking inventory of all the evidence seized at the home, Sgt. Stone said police seized a total of 133 grams of heroin and $45,621 in cash from all the defendants as they made the arrests. They seized an undetermined quantity of prescription drugs, which may result in additional charges. Also seized were two rifles. Police say there may be additional charges related to the weapons, because no one in the home had a valid firearms identification card.