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HAVERHILL — During a prostitution sting last night, police said they arrested a major cocaine dealer who had a drug sales ledger containing the names of "prominent'' Haverhill residents.
Police said the ledger will kick off an investigation that could lead to a series of arrests.
Christos Eleftheriou, 45, of 17 Sawmill Road, Haverhill, was arrested at 8:11 p.m. in the area of Welcome and Winter streets just north of downtown after he propositioned a woman police officer for sex during the prostitution sting, said police spokesman Sgt. John Arahovites.
Eleftheriou was charged with sexual conduct for a fee and brought to the police station, where police found 16 grams of powdered cocaine in five bags on him with a street value of $16,200, along with $340 in cash, Arahovites said.
Arahovites said police then got a search warrant for Eleftheriou's vehicle, a Ford Explorer, and found drug scales, $2,800 in cash and the ledger containing the names of several people.
"Given the evidence seized, it appears he is a major cocaine dealer in Haverhill,'' Arahovites said. "There were the names of several prominent people in the ledger.''
Arahovites said based on the information seized, police will widen their investigation beyond Eleftheriou, and that other arrests are possible. He was charged with trafficking in cocaine and sexual conduct for a fee and will be arraigned today in Haverhill District Court.
Arahovites said Eleftheriou is well known in Haverhill, and that he and his family own and operate the Haverhill House of Pizza sandwich shop in Riversedge Plaza next to Haverhill Stadium.
Arahovites said the arrest linking Eleftheriou to drug sales was "very lucky'' because it came as police conducted a relatively routine prostitution sting using plain clothes women officers. He said the department conducts stings about four times a year and they have been successful in keeping down the number of prostitutes working the streets of Haverhill and the number of men who are looking to pay for sex.
Arahovites said last night's sting started just after dark in the inner-city area of Winter, Portland, Welcome and Cottage streets where prostitutes have been known to work. The area is at the edge of the Acre neighborhood and just north of downtown.
He said the stings usually begin with police getting real prostitutes off the street, then having women officers in plain clothes walk the area. When men drive up and proposition the women officers for sex, they are arrested, he said.
"Even though the incidents of prostitution are down, we want to keep it down,'' Arahovites said of why police do the stings several times a year.
Arahovites said also arrested in the sting and charged with sexual conduct for a fee were these men:
Fernando Vega Gonzalez, 40, 4 Observatory Ave., Haverhill.
Francisco Lopez, 32, 245 River St., Haverhill.
William Santafe, 49, 52 Sheridan St., Haverhill.
Anthony Defilippo, 52, of Everett.
Scott Thurber, 67, of Unity, N.H.
Arahovites said the sting was run by police Captain Alan Ratte, two women officers and six undercover detectives.
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