Dave Souza, Herald News
Some of the drugs and cash taken in a weekend drug bust are seen at the Swansea Police Department.
By Jay Pateakos
Herald Hews Staff Reporter
Posted Sep 09, 2008 @ 11:49 PM
Last update Sep 10, 2008 @ 12:15 AM
Members of the SouthCoast Anti-Crime Task force including members of the Swansea, Fall River and East Providence, R.I., police departments and members of the Bristol County Sheriff's department confiscated 500 pounds of marijuana and more than $180,000 in cash from a weekend drug bust.
The marijuana alone has a street value of more than $600,000.
Law enforment officials made the annoucnement and described the investigation during a press conference at the Swansea police station Tuesday.
After a monthlong investigation and 24-hour surveillance, John C. Mendonca, 38, of 45 Dover St., Fall River, who had been living at an East Providence hotel, was pulled over Saturday by an East Providence police officer.
A search of his vehicle found prescription drugs, several cell phones and a box containing a large amount of cash. Search warrants were taken out for four of Mendonca's known haunts, including two locations in East Providence and two in Fall River.
Swansea Detectives Marc Haslam and Joseph Martin, along with Bristol County Sheriff's Office Major Nelson Gouveia, conducted searches of 84 McGowan St. and 206 Covel St. in Fall River. The McGowan Street garage revealed a 2001 Dodge Caravan with 500 pounds of marijuana inside. A money counting machine believed to be tied to Mendonca's alleged drug operation was found at the Covel St. home in addition to a total of 10 cell phones. Additional drugs were also found in the two East Providence locations.
Mendonca is currently on federal probation and being held at the ACI on drug trafficking charges.
In November 2002, federal agents and local police seized more than $1.3 million in cash and nearly 5 pounds of marijuana from Mendonca and his wife, Jacqueline. The pair was arrested outside a Motel 6, giving authorities home addresses in Fall River and Warwick.
Swansea Deputy Police Chief Robert Furtado said police believe there were two men involved in Mendonca's drug operation, but no one else has been charged. Furtado said because Mendonca was on federal probation, federal marijuana trafficking charges are being sought.
When asked if he felt the major drug bust - the biggest he said he has seen in more than three decades on the force - felt like they have made a dent in the drug war, Furtado said it was a dent that would be filled in soon enough with someone else taking Mendonca's place.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said the significant bust was an incredible collaboration of police and sheriff's officers from around the county.
"These groups are so committed, and this is something you see when you have an agreement between the police chiefs and I. We've made a dent and we will continue to make more dents with other investigations that are ongoing," said Hodgson. "This is something that sends a clear message that if you want to continue to deal drugs, we will continue to come after you, your cars and your belongings associated with these illegal activities."