Woonsocket sweep nets 19 arrests, drugs, guns and cash

Drugs, guns and cash seized in an operation that lasted from May to September are put on display by Woonsocket Police September 22, 2020. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Woonsocket Police said a four-month investigation resulted in 19 arrests, the seizure of significant quantities of fentanyl and other drugs, along with more than $130,000 in cash, two pistols and four vehicles.

Vice squad detectives began the investigation in May in response to numerous overdoses and a spike in the flow of drugs despite the COVID-19 crisis, said Police Chief Thomas Oates.

Police teamed with social workers to treat drug victims in the aftermath of the arrests.

“Working alongside the social workers gives us a different perspective,” said Woonsocket Police Captain Edward Cunanen. “That helps us to get to this problem from both angles, which is really important.”

“I applaud the City’s participation in the Community Care initiative and the Hope initiative to make sure that those who need help get the help they need and break the cycle of addiction,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha.

“That’s really hard work, both on the part of the people who do that work, and of course, the people who are victims of this crisis themselves,” Neronha said, adding that the drug crisis in Rhode Island has worsened during the COVID crisis.

Police displayed numerous baggies of drugs, including fentanyl, fentanyl pills, suboxone, methamphetamine, cocaine and prescription pills. Also shown was cash, two pistols, and a car seat rigged with a hidden compartment used to hide drugs and weapons.