Tisbury School issues alert in aftermath of heroin bust
The discovery of what police believe are packets of heroin along Pine Street in the vicinity of the Tisbury School prompted a warning Friday to parents.
A police officer working a private detail discovered the packages two days after the Martha's Vineyard Drug Task force arrested six people and seized 133 grams of heroin and $45,621 from the Garde family home at 139 Spring Street on Tuesday, November 18.
Police said one of the suspects, Rosaline Gaspar, fled along Pine Street in her car, after pulling up to the home as police were executing a search warrant. The drug task force is investigating if Ms. Gaspar threw the packages from her car just before she was apprehended.
The evidence recovered prompted a letter to parents of children attending the Tisbury School.
The arrest of six young Islanders on serious drug charges, including three from the same family, has sparked a spirited online debate and discussion at mvtimes.com.
Generally even controversial news stories generate only a score of posts. As of yesterday afternoon there were 133 comments under the headline, "Six nabbed in Tisbury raid, charged with heroin trafficking."
Readers expressed a range of opinions on the scope of heroin addiction on Martha's Vineyard, whether police are doing too much or too little to apprehend users and dealers, the availability of counseling services and whether the suspects and their families deserve scorn or sympathy.
"The same people who were notorious for selling drugs when I was in high school are still dealing," said one commenter. "Everyone acts shocked and applauds, as if they weren't aware Martha's Vineyard had problems like this."
Another reader who identified himself as a part-time Vineyarder, parent, and physician said, "To those of you who write words of support for this family, you must all acknowledge that lives will be and have been changed forever by the actions of these drug dealers."
Comments directed at the Garde family generated some of the most heated exchanges.
"I am shocked to read some of the hateful things Islanders have posted," wrote one reader. "Get real, I am sure none of you are angels either."
"I am very glad to see these drug dealers/addicts off of our streets also, but some of you people are beyond cruel and apparently cowards, too, that you don't post your names," wrote yet another poster.
While some comments were brief and pointed, many were long, thoughtful, and heartfelt. Some writers reflected on their own personal battles.
"The Martha's Vineyard Times has been pleased by the interest shown by our online readers in the comment feature we sponsor," Times editor Doug Cabral said Tuesday. "The volume of comments this week to the news story about the six young people charged with drug crimes is especially large, but the feature has generally attracted interest from a wide range of people, on a wide range of subjects. That pleases us. "On the other hand, we've not always been pleased by the harsh quality and bitter debate that sometimes occurs in the comments, and over time we've stiffened the policies governing how the comment feature works. Now, each posted comment is reviewed and approved before it's uploaded. Still, we think there is more work to be done, not to direct the opinions of the comment posters, but to civilize the tone of some comments. It's a constantly changing challenge, but one we embrace as another way that the newspaper and the community converse, and the community reveals itself."
"In light of the recent drug raid," read the letter from school principal Richie Smith, "please be vigilant with your children as there may be drug paraphernalia that may have ended up in the yards and in the streets around our building. Our concern is for students walking to school. Police are continuing their search of the immediate area for any of this paraphernalia. Rest assured that our school property will continue to be checked."
This week the Cape and Islands District attorney said he is considering additional charges in connection with the arrest.
All six defendants returned to court for pre-trial hearings on Monday. Each was assigned a December court date for the next pre-trial hearing in the case.
Caleb Garde, 24, remains in the Dukes County House of Correction, held on $50,000 bail.
After their arraignment last Wednesday in the Dukes County courthouse, Associate Justice Lance Garth ordered Hannah Garde, 22, held on $12,000 bail and her brother Daniel Garde, 19, held on $6,000 bail.
Yesterday, the brother and sister appeared in Barnstable Superior Court for a bail reduction hearing.
Judge Richard Connon reduced their bail to personal recognizance, and ordered both released based on their promise to return to court.
The other three suspects, Alexander Carlson, 21, Garret Gibson, 24, and Ms. Gaspar, were released on bail last week.
First assistant district attorney Michael Trudeau said all the cases are being reviewed, with an eye toward presenting evidence to a grand jury. A grand jury indictment would elevate the case from district court to Superior Court, where, if convicted, the suspects could be sentenced to incarceration in the state prison system.
The Drug Task Force began investigating Caleb Garde more than a year ago, based on complaints from people who said their loved ones purchased heroin from him. Police officers involved in task force work said they were surprised to find the quantity of drugs and the amount of money seized in the raid last week.
Heroin is a problem on Martha's Vineyard, but police said it is not a larger or smaller problem than most other communities.
"I don't think it's any different than any other place," said State Police Sergeant Jeff Stone, who leads the Drug Task Force. "All across the United States in recent years, the age of heroin users has come down. Younger people are using heroin. We see that here."
In a 2005 survey of Massachusetts high school students, the Centers for Disease Control concluded that 2.4-percent of those surveyed admitted to heroin use at least once in their lifetime. In a 2007 survey of Massachusetts high school students, that percentage increased to 3.1-percent. The survey revealed that males are more than twice as likely to use the narcotic as females.
According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin is readily available across Massachusetts, in small and large quantities. Federal investigators say most of the heroin distributed here originates in Columbia or the Dominican Republic. The last leg of its trip is often through New York, where it is stashed in hidden compartments of automobiles, and driven to New England along the highways.
Sgt. Stone said most heroin is smuggled onto Martha's Vineyard by individuals who conceal it, and simply carry it here. "They go off Island and they bring it in a lot of different ways," said Sgt. Stone. "They use every means of transportation available."
- On Island
- Real Estate
- Eat & Drink
- Come & Stay
- Home & Garden
- About Us
- User Agreement
- Buy Photos
mvtimes.com : The Martha's Vineyard Times is a weekly newspaper published on Martha's Vineyard