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Monday, 1 November 2010

cocaine ring run by members of the Bloods street gang

09:16 |

cocaine ring run by members of the Bloods street gang, according to authorities.

After conducting surveillance and making multiple undercover drug purchases from various players in the alleged ring, officers made their move Thursday night when they arrested two key suspects at gunpoint inside a Berkshire Medical Center parking garage.

A third suspect was arrested outside a Seymour Street home early Friday, while a fourth remains at large.

Police said all four men are Pittsfield residents.

Authorities said they seized more than $8,000 cash, about 130 grams of crack and powder cocaine, a small quantity of marijuana, 11 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition and three vehicles, including a Hummer, Lexus and Jeep Liberty.

Investigators with the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, which includes a mix of Massachusetts State Police and officers from Pittsfield and other municipal departments, began building their case against the suspects after receiving tips from a "credible and reliable cooperating informant," according to a report by investigators Michael Nykorchuck and Tyrone Price, members of the Pittsfield Police Department Drug Unit and the task force.

The investigators characterized the drug operation as a "major" cocaine trafficking ring that was "managed by several members of the Bloods street gang."

The gang members were identified as 26-year-old Charles "Bezzo" Best Jr., 21-year-old Cory "Lil Norm" Moody, 17-year-old Darius "Most Hated" Walters, and 23-year-old Gerard "Prano" Jones. All but Jones have already been charged in connection with the alleged drug ring.
"A warrant has been issued for [Jones'] arrest," said Detective Sgt. Marc E. Strout, commanding officer of the Pittsfield Police Department Drug Unit and member of the task force.

"There are more arrests to follow," Strout said Monday night.

Best, Moody and Walters denied charges ranging from cocaine trafficking to drug distribution and conspiracy at their District Court arraignments. Cash bail for Best, Moody and Walters was set at $100,000, $20,000 and $2,000, respectively.

Law enforcement officials said the investigation was based on interviews with informants and extensive surveillance by federal, state and local authorities, including video and still photography allegedly showing the commission of crimes. Other information came "directly from participants of the conspiracy itself," according to the investigators.

Police said Best and Moody were bosses of "a regional distribution network" of street-level cocaine dealers. The pair "worked in concert to co-manage the procurement and distribution of cocaine to lower level dealers in the Pittsfield/Central Berkshire County area," according to a report by Nykorchuck and Price.

Authorities said four separate drug buys by confidential informants were made prior to Thursday's arrest of Best and Moody inside the BMC parking garage. A "takedown team" took the men into custody as they arrived at the hospital garage about 20 minutes apart late Thursday evening.

Information received by investigators indicated Best and Moody would be arriving separately at the garage, where they parked a black Jeep Liberty allegedly used for making drug deliveries. Best arrived shortly before 11 p.m. in a white Hummer, while Moody arrived about 20 minutes later in a green Nissan Altima.

In both instances, plainclothes Pittsfield drug investigators ordered the men at gunpoint to exit their vehicles.

Walters was taken into police custody outside a Seymour Street apartment around 12:30 a.m. Friday.

Court records indicate Best and Jones -- the remaining wanted suspect in the case -- both have drug convictions in Berkshire Superior Court.

Moody was charged in connection with a March 2009 gunfight outside a Columbus Avenue apartment building, but the disposition of his case wasn't immediately known. Another defendant in that case was sentenced to state prison in July.

Police identified the owner of the seized Hummer as Liam Billard, of Great Barrington. Pittsfield residents Jessica Fitzgerald and Desiree Eason were identified as owners of the Lexus and Jeep Liberty, respectively.

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