Fighting opioids in the court and streets

Attorney General Maura Healey announced a massive drug bust just a day after co-penning an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with Gov. Charlie Baker about the opioid crisis and her lawsuit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals.

Healey’s office called Thursday’s announcement of drug busts in Methuen and Lawrence the largest drug takedown in the state’s history, with 12 individuals arrested, four guns, $100,000 in cash, and 24 kilos of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine seized. The two-year operation was carried out by the Fentanyl Strike Force, a law enforcement effort put together in 2016 to take on criminal drug operations across the northeast.

“We’re dismantling major drug networks and we’re taking millions of lethal doses of heroin and fentanyl off the street,” Healey said. “Every drug we take off the street is potentially a life saved.”

As law enforcement ups its game on the streets to keep opioids out of users’ hands, Healey is taking to the courtroom in an attempt to hold those who might have started the problem in the first place accountable.

Her office sued Purdue in January over deceptive marketing of opioids to doctors and patients, alleging that Purdue and its Sackler family owners were aware that OxyContin was addictive and deadly. Healey and Baker wrote they will do “whatever it takes” to hold the company accountable.

“The company deceived prescribers and patients about its drugs. Purdue sold more than 70 million doses of opioids to Massachusetts patients, generating more than $500 million,” the letter to the editor said.

Those decisions, they said, “caused much of the epidemic,” along with Purdue allegedly targeting specific communities in marketing. This comes a few weeks after Purdue Pharma chairman Steve Miller wrote in the Journal that it was “inaccurate and unfair” to blame and target his company specifically for the opioid crisis, especially in court.

“Litigation may satisfy the public’s desire for a scapegoat, but real long-term solutions are needed. The first step should be a constructive global resolution to the opioid litigation that helps suffering people and strained communities,” Miller said.

The families of the 670 people who have died in Massachusetts from opioid overdoses, and those who struggle with relapses mentioned in Baker and Healey’s op-ed, would probably disagree.

SARAH BETANCOURT

 

 

BEACON HILL

Arlington state Rep. Sean Garballey agreed to forfeit $10,000 he loaned his campaign as part of a settlement with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance over several campaign law violations, including charging his campaign $900 for Uber rides to and from the State House that are already covered by a generous expense allotment each lawmaker receives on top their state salary. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts is preparing to resume using breathalyzer tests in drunk driving cases after the state Office of Alcohol Testing won national accreditation (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appoints Yusufi Vali the head of his Office for Immigrant Advancement. Vali was the executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. (CommonWealth)

The struggling Hilltowns of western Massachusetts are trying to attract tourists with a combination of arts and history. (CommonWealth)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

In response to Iran shooting down a $130 million unmanned surveillance drone, President Trump approved strikes against Iranian missile batteries but then called them off late Thursday while planes were in the air and ships in position. (New York Times)

Meet the Press host Chuck Toddwho will interview President Donald Trump this Sunday, said that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the “wrong word choice” when she described detention camps for immigrants as concentration camps. (WGBH) Lawyers who visited one of the camps say children are being held in dangerous conditions, with many stricken with the flu. (Associated Press)

ELECTIONS

A charter review committee in Lynn calls for a four-year term for the mayor (up from two years) and a two-year term for city councilors. (Daily Item)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

In Haverhill for the opening of a new showroom, Volvo Cars USA CEO Anders Gustafsson said that the uncertainty created by tariffs has created a delay at the company’s South Carolina plant where he is hiring 4,000 workers and half the cars produced were to be exported. (Eagle-Tribune)

EDUCATION

A Globe editorial says new education-funding legislation must include reforms such as empowerment-zones that give districts more flexibility in operating struggling schools.

The descendants of the 19th century pro-slavery academic Louis Agassiz have joined forces with the descendants of Papa Renty, a slave whose photo Agassiz commissioned. Renty’s family is suing Harvard University to obtain the old daguerreotype. (WBUR)

Holy Cross says an internal investigation concluded a former organist at the university sexually harassed students. (Telegram & Gazette)

Officials at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School are giving away test marijuana/THC test strips that turn red in the presence of pot. The strips have turned up some positive results when used this past school year, principal William Terranova said. (Cape Cod Times)

ARTS/CULTURE

Legal issues are stalling the reopening of Fall River’s Red Hen speakeasy (Herald News)

TRANSPORTATION

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu is trying to mobilize T riders, hosting a June 30 rally against the upcoming fare hike and a system-wide canvas on July 1, the day the fare hike actually takes effect. (CommonWealth)

Renee Loth reminds Mayor Marty Walsh, who recently told the Globe editorial board it’s unrealistic to think Boston’s mayor would have a comprehensive transportation plan — “How could a mayor have a plan, where would you find that?” — that the city issued just such a plan two years ago. (Boston Globe)

So much for Massport’s nationwide search, says Howie Carr, who says it comes down to a battle between two local Republican-leaning hacks. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A red tide bloom closed all the shellfish beds from Boston to Plymouth on Thursday afternoon, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking ICE from arresting most undocumented immigrants at courthouses, a big victory for Marian Ryan and Rachael Rollins, the district attorneys for Middlesex and Suffolk counties. (CommonWealth)

According to prosecutors in the Dominican Republic, a series of bumbling mistakes – including mistaking a water cooler for white pants – allegedly led a crew of criminals to accidentally attack David Ortiz instead of the intended target, Sixto David Fernández. (Associated Press)

A judge found Erika Murray guilty of assault and battery on her two children and animal cruelty, but dismissed second-degree murder charges in the so-called Blackstone house of horror case. (MassLive)

Boston police will add four new officers to its unsolved homicide unit, doubling the size of that effort. (Boston Globe)

Emanuel Casseus Jr. is facing a potential lengthy mandatory prison sentence after a Plymouth County grand jury indicted him on an armed career criminal charge. (Brockton Enterprise)

Judge Emily Karstetter sympathized with Courtney Casey as she sentenced the New York woman to take an online course in animal safety. Casey left her French bulldog Nigil in her Jeep while visiting Salem before Halloween in 2017, and when she got back to the vehicle the dog was dead after choking on vomit. (Salem News)

A New Bedford police officer was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston Thursday on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography. (Standard Times)

MEDIA

The Boston Globe has been awarded a two-year $600,000 grant by the Barr Foundation to fund an investigative unit to cover public education in the state. (Boston Globe)