Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni’s SAFE Unit shuts down East Forest Park home used in Drug Operation  

February 24, 2022 -Springfield-  Members of Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni’s Strategic Action & Focused Enforcement Unit (SAFE), shut down a home, 127 Old Brook Road in Springfield, used as a strategic location for a violent drug distribution organization on Wednesday. While the investigation remains ongoing, the weeks-long investigation resulted in two arrests and the shuttering of a high-level heroin distribution point.

Arrested in connection with this investigation:

Nathaniel Diaz, 23, of Springfield. He has been charged with: Trafficking, Class A Drug, (Heroin), Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Carrying a Loaded Firearm, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Possession of Ammunition without a License, Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon with Motor Vehicle (4 counts), Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Accident (2 counts), Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Speeding, Marked Lanes Violation, Failure to Stop at a Red Light, Failure to Stop for Police, Malicious Destruction of Property (2 counts)

Jose Rivera, 42, of Springfield. He has been charged with: Possession of ammunition without a license.

Both suspects came under the scrutiny of the SAFE Unit as a continuation of the unit’s highly successful investigation of the Knox Street Gang, was which entitled “Operation Knox Out”. While the street gang was decimated in a wide-ranging investigation that resulted in over 14 arrests early in 2021, there are remnants and spin-offs of the gang still operating.

Investigators became aware that known members of the Knox Street Gang have been operating out of a safe house at 127 Old Brook Road in Springfield. The residence is located in very close proximity to two schools, an elementary school and a high school, and a very short distance away from the East Forest Park Library. The home was being used as a safe house, hangout, as well as a distribution point for narcotics. Investigators believe these suspects travelled out of state and trafficked large amounts of heroin, which would then be broken up and distributed in smaller amounts to street-level distribution networks from this house.    

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni stated, “Our focus on known public safety threats will not waver. There is no place in any neighborhood for this kind of threat to the public’s safety, health, and wellbeing. We will not tolerate their attempts to profit from addiction and the violence that necessarily comes with this undertaking. These things undermine the basic quality of life and safety of decent, hard-working women, and men, and their families, who have to live around this ongoing threat. The Hampden District Attorney’s Office, its SAFE Unit, and our law enforcement partners will be relentless in removing these threats, wherever and whenever they endeavor to compromise public safety.”  

Nathaniel Diaz was arrested at approximately 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday, February 24, 2022, after authorities became aware he was in the process of traveling to acquire a large quantity of narcotics.

On Tuesday night, investigators attempted to perform a motor vehicle stop and arrest Diaz in the area of Warriner Avenue in Springfield. Instead of stopping, he began to flee while operating the motor vehicle. As Diaz drove over curbs, he struck the driver side of a Massachusetts State Police vehicle with the trooper inside. As he attempted to drive off the street, he struck another undercover vehicle in the front bumper before striking a third undercover vehicle head on, which was occupied by two officers. All these committed and honorable law enforcement officers involved were unhurt and are doing well. He also struck a light pole, fire hydrant, and retaining wall at the corner of Warriner Avenue and Locust Street. He then sped off traveling down Main Street.

Despite heavy damage to his vehicle, He was able to operate the car at high speeds, in excess of 100 m.p.h. and extremely recklessly, and put innocent members of the public in grave danger. He continued traveling down Main Street where officers observed him driving on the opposite side of the road and into oncoming traffic, forcing motorists to pull over to avoid being struck. Officers could also see him throwing various items from the car. One of the items recovered was a black bag which contained a loaded firearm.

Diaz continued travelling at a high-rate of speed, travelling north on Main Street where he committed numerous motor vehicle violations including marked lanes violations, failure to stop at red lights, and reckless operation. Diaz was finally stopped after he crashed in 1860 Main Street, The Republican building, but as able to flee on foot.   

Investigators were able to locate Diaz, a short time later, while still on foot, walking down Mill Street heading toward Locust. Again, Diaz began running away, but he was eventually apprehended and placed under arrest.

Located during a canvass of the area where Diaz was observed to be throwing objects from the vehicle was the aforementioned loaded firearm, and approximately 51 half-packs of suspected heroin, equaling 2,550 small bags.

Later on in the afternoon on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, members of the SAFE Unit executed a search warrant at 127 Old Brook Road. As a result of the warrant, ammunition was located in a safe in the residence. Located there was Jose Rivera, who was arrested for possession of ammunition without a license.

Both suspects have been observed frequenting and operating out of 127 Old Brook Road during the course of this investigation, putting law-abiding members of the public at risk through their illegal and high-risk activities.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni formed the Strategic Action & Focused Enforcement Unit (SAFE) to explicitly focus on highly violent individuals who posed serious threats to life, order, and community in Hampden County. The unit is comprised of members of law enforcement from the Massachusetts State Police, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Homeland Security Investigations, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, and Holyoke, West Springfield, and East Longmeadow Police Departments, who work with the District Attorney and high-level prosecutors on his team.

Additionally, officers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Massachusetts State Police Detectives assigned to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, and Gang Unit of the Massachusetts State Police, and the Hampden County Narcotics Taskforce assisted with the investigation and the resulting takedown.  

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