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Man Accused of Trafficking Heroin in Taunton, Massachusetts Being Held on Bail

Last week’s Taunton Gazette reports that Leonardo Sanchez, of Lowell Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island has been charged with Trafficking Heroin Over 200 Grams as well as Carrying a Dangerous Weapon. Apparently the police had been investigating Sanchez for over six months. It is alleged that he had been selling large quantities of Heroin to one particular customer for that period of time. Authorities had information that last week Sanchez would be in possession of a significant amount of Heroin at the Silver City Galleria Mall in Taunton. Following up on their lead, the officers set up surveillance and observed Sanchez meet up with his contact. He was grabbed when he left the mall. In his possession the police found over two hundred grams of Heroin as well as a pair of brass knuckles. Sanchez was arraigned in the Taunton District Court where bail was set at forty thousand dollars cash. This case will eventually be prosecuted in the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River as the district court has no jurisdiction over Massachusetts Trafficking Cases.

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As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer there is an abundance of information that I would need to obtain before deciding how to proceed with the defense in this case. What is obvious is that Sanchez’s best chances for success are to show that the Search and Seizure was unlawful. This can only work if the facts of this case support the constitutional challenge. It is clear that Sanchez was stopped in the legal sense. To justify the stop the district attorney needs to show that reasonable suspicion for the police to believe that Sanchez was committing or was about to commit or did in fact commit a crime existed at the time of the stop. Reasonable suspicion can arise from the police officer’s personal observations. It can also originate from information supplied by an informant. The latter appears to be the case here. I base that assumption on the fact that the police had knowledge that Sanchez had been supplying someone regularly with Heroin for at least six months, that surveillance had been established prior to Sanchez’s arrival and that he was meeting a customer (probable the informant) at the mall. Someone had to alert that police to the time, date and details of this activity in order for them to set up this operation. If this is the case then the district attorney will have to show that the information was credible and that he or she had a basis of knowledge to establish that Sanchez would be in possession of drugs at the mall. Alternatively, if the stop of Sanchez amounted to an arrest, then the prosecution will have to show that it had probable cause to make the arrest. This is a tougher standard to overcome and could be problematic for law enforcement.


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