M.V. Drug Task Force intercepts major fentanyl shipment

Months-long investigation results in largest fentanyl haul in task force history.

103 grams of suspected fentanyl confiscated by the MV Drug Task Force. — Courtesy Edgartown Police Depart

Officers from the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force arrested Alex Carlson, 30, of Edgartown and charged him with trafficking in more than 10 grams of fentanyl and resisting arrest. Task force officers arrested Mr. Carlson on Monday night at approximately 9:15 pm, executing a search warrant after he got off the ferry at the Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority terminal. The arrest was the result of a five-month investigation into the alleged distribution of heroin and fentanyl by Mr. Carlson.

“Detective [Michael] Snowden was the lead investigator on this case, and by seizing this much fentanyl before it was distributed throughout the Island, there is no doubt that he and the other [task force] officers prevented a series of overdoses which most likely would have resulted in deaths,” task force member Lt. Chris Dolby wrote in an email.  

According to the police report, Mr. Carlson resisted the efforts of officers to take him into custody and attempted to pull the arresting officers toward the water, apparently attempting to get close enough to toss the drugs into the harbor.   

Approximately 103 grams of suspected fentanyl, wrapped in green cellophane, were found on Mr. Carlson. The haul has a street value of approximately $21,000 and is the largest fentanyl seizure in task force history.

Mr. Carlson will be arraigned in Edgartown District Court on Friday. He is currently being held on $100,000 cash bail.  

The bail amount set by Clerk Magistrate Liza Williamson was the result of Mr. Carlson’s two prior convictions of possession with intent to distribute heroin and the substantial jail time he’s served as a result.

In “Reasonings for Ordering Bail,” Ms. Williamson wrote that the amount of fentanyl was equivalent to 600 “hits,” and that the sale of such a high number of fentanyl hits “would likely result in a death and a potentially legally viable charge of manslaughter. Because fentanyl is such a life-threatening narcotic, appropriate bail must reflect the actual potential charges.”

Citing Drug Enforcement Agency data that states fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, Ms. Williamson wrote, “The nature and circumstances of the charge are reasonably closer to homicide under [these] circumstances.”