Drug task force arrests two repeat offenders on drug charges

In this file photo, Matthew Tucci sits in Edgartown District Court on January 23, 2013, following his arraignment on charges of dealing heroin and failing to register as a level 3 sex offender. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Members of the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force went to a house at Mariner’s Road in Tisbury on March 19, where they arrested two men with histories of previous drug violations. Police suspected the pair of continuing to deal heroin.

Asa W. French of Oak Bluffs, 28, the target of the investigation, according to the police report, was arrested for possession with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Arrested on the same charge was Matthew P. Tucci, 31, who gave a Boylston address. Mr. Tucci, a registered sex offender with a history of drug violations, was only recently released from the Dukes County House of Correction after completing his sentence following a previous arrest on drug charges. Police also charged Mr. Tucci with failing to register as a sex offender with Tisbury police after moving to Tisbury, as the law requires.

Bail was set at $2,000 for Mr. French following his arrest on March 19. He remained in the Dukes County jail in Edgartown until his scheduled arraignment on March 21 in Edgartown District court where bail was revoked and he was held on probation violations.

Mr. Tucci was released March 19, on $2,500 cash bail. His freedom was short. At his arraignment Friday, his bail was revoked, and he was held on probation violations. Both men are currently being held in the Dukes County jail.

Baggies lead to arrest

About 2:30 pm, on March 19, drug task force members went to the door at 73 Mariner’s Road. Finding it locked, officers announced they were there with a search warrant and knocked open the door.

Police found Mr. French, Mr. Tucci, who was just exiting the bathroom, and a 26-year-old woman in the basement, according to the police report.

“A quick look around the room,” Edgartown detective Michael Snowden wrote in his report, “revealed used needles and several used/scrapped cellophane baggies. A search of Tucci revealed approximately $2,519 total in U.S. currency; $2,000 in one pocket and $519 in the other pocket. Tucci informed me that he did not have a job at this time and that he just got out of jail. Tucci stated that he had no place to go and that he was staying with French for the time being.”

The search turned up baggies missing the bottom corners, a way, police said, “to package narcotics for distribution.” Police also found a bus ticket from Worcester to Woods Hole dated March 16, with Mr. Tucci’s name on it. Police said based on information in the past, Mr. Tucci’s heroin connection “was indeed in Worcester.”

The woman, who was not arrested, told police “she had recently had a relapse of using heroin after being clean for two years. She continued to say that Tucci most likely had the heroin on him and before entry he was in the bathroom shooting up.”

Police said that based on the large amount of money found on Mr. Tucci, the baggies with missing corners all through the bedroom, and a small amount of a brown, powdery substance “believed to be heroin,” police arrested both men.

No let up

Commenting on the arrests in a telephone conversation Tuesday, Mr. Snowden, a member of the drug task force, said task force members would continue to put the pressure on those who deal drugs on the Island.

“It just shows — everybody we work with — we are not going to stop,” Mr. Snowden said. “We are constantly doing work, we are constantly out there, we are constantly gathering information to put the puzzle together, and just because somebody got out of jail a week ago, it does not mean they are not going to get right back at it.”

Detective Snowden pointed to the task force, made up of police officers from across the Island and the State Police, and its track record of numerous arrests over the past 18 months.

“We have definitely had our foot on the pedal,” he said. “We are always going to be out there, we are always going to be doing our job.”

Detective Snowden said it is gratifying to have the support of the community. “Sometimes it feels like we are going backwards, but you can’t win if you don’t try,” he said.

Seven weeks earlier

On February 5, members of the task force arrested Mr. French as he stepped off the Patriot passenger commuter boat in Oak Bluffs Harbor.

Oak Bluffs Police Lieutenant Tim Williamson said Mr. French was carrying 10 grams of heroin in his pants at the time of his arrest. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and taken to the Dukes County Jail. He was arraigned the following morning, February 6, and released on $400 bail.

At the time of his arrest last month, Mr. French was on probation in connection with a prior conviction. On July 26, 2013, Mr. French was sentenced to one year in the house of correction and ordered to serve 60 days with 18 months’ probation following his conviction on a charge of larceny from a building.

Repeat offender

On March 6, Mr. Tucci walked out of the Dukes County House of Correction.

A little more than one year earlier, on January 23, 2013, Edgartown District Court Presiding Justice H. Gregory Williams revoked bail for Mr. Tucci following his arraignment on charges of dealing heroin and failing to register as a level 3 sex offender.

At the time, Mr. Tucci was also free on bail from Worcester District Court, where he also faced heroin dealing charges.

Mr. Tucci was sentenced to 2.5 years in the house of correction, 18 months committed. The Worcester charge netted him a one year sentence.

In their report, police described a long investigation of Mr. Tucci as a drug suspect, including surveillance of drug transactions by task force officers.

Mr. Tucci had a five-page record of criminal offenses, including several drug convictions resulting in jail sentences, probation violations, and warrant defaults, according to court records.

In April of 2002, he was convicted of statutory rape and abuse of a child in Dukes County Superior Court. According to a published report in the Vineyard Gazette, a jury took just two hours to convict Mr. Tucci, 19, of raping a 15-year-old girl in a late night incident in Oak Bluffs and of procuring alcohol for a minor. Judge Barbara J. Rouse sentenced Mr. Tucci to serve a full five years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction,

Following his conviction in that case, he was ordered to register as a Level 3 sex offender. A Level 3 sex offender is defined by the sex offender registry board as an individual with a high risk of reoffending, to the degree that the danger posed to the public warrants active community notification.

At the time of his conviction on the rape charge, Mr. Tucci was serving a 23-month sentence in the Edgartown House of Correction for a breaking and entering conviction.

In November 1999, Mr. Tucci, then 17 and living in Edgartown, was one of three teens arrested in connection with a series of house and motor vehicle burglaries.

For more about the arrest and release history of Mr. Tucci, see this week’s At Large column.