CHELMSFORD -- A town resident who brazenly sold heroin to buyers inside Walmart, and a father and son team who were distributing heroin from their 248-year-old Bartlett Street residence, were arrested by Chelmsford Police detectives in separate busts in the past week, police said.
Matthew Waddell, 22, of 141 North Road, was arrested on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 5:45 p.m. in front of the Walmart store at 66 Parkhurst Road, and charged with trafficking in heroin.
On Wednesday at 9:15 p.m., Ronald Mercer, 49, and Matthew Mercer, 23, were arrested at their 4 Bartlett St. residence by Chelmsford Police officers executing a search warrant. Father and son were each charged with possession of a class A drug (heroin) with intent to distribute. Ronald Mercer was additionally charged with possession of a class B substance.
"After a significant, three-week investigation of suspected high-level narcotic activity out of that house, as well as other locations in town, a search warrant was issued and executed resulting in the arrests of the father and son, and evidence being recovered," Deputy Police Chief James Spinney said.
Among the evidence police seized from the Mercer house were several small rubber containers, or "fingers" as dealers call them, each filled with 5 to 7 grams of heroin, Spinney reported.
Waddell's arrest at Walmart also capped off a month long surveillance effort that began when Waddell appeared on the detective bureau's radar as an individual suspected of engaging in drug-related activity, according to Spinney.
"As unbelievable as it sounds, we had eyes on the suspect (Waddell) as he met with sold heroin to his buyers right out in the open inside the store," sad Spinney. In addition to undercover officers witnessing the sales, the transactions were likely captured by the store's surveillance video, the deputy chief said.
It is the department's hope the three arrests will help curtail a noticeable rise in heroin-dealing activity within the town's borders in recent months.
"It's not unique to Chelmsford, but we are seeing it creeping back in," said Spinney "For whatever reason, it seems heroin has now become more prevalent in the area than cocaine."
Ronald Mercer is not the owner of record of the two-story, 4,000-square-foot, 7-bedroom house at 4 Bartlett St., that was built in 1766. The house is owned by 4 Bartlett Street LLC, according to the Chelmsford assessor's online database.
In September 2005, Ronald Mercer, then 41, was arrested and charged with possession and distribution of a class A substance in a school zone.
In July 2012, Waddell, then 20, was arrested along with two other Chelmsford teens and one from Lowell, on charges of making explosive devices after they allegedly set off several dangerous "works bombs" on lawns and under cars in Chelmsford.
While the bombs -- made with tinfoil, a plastic bottle, and named after the main ingredient, a toilet-bowl cleaner called "The Works" -- caused no damage, police noted in court documents that the explosives are very dangerous.
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