Acushnet man accused of trying to smuggle heroin to inmate girlfriend held without bail

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - An Acushnet man accused of trying to help his inmate girlfriend smuggle heroin into the Bristol County House of Corrections is facing criminal charges, officials said.

After being tipped off by the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit about a plan to smuggle drugs into the jail, investigators followed Justin Lopes, 30, from his home to a location in Fall River where his girlfriend, Tayla Croteau, 24, of New Bedford, was working on a Community Work Program crew, according to the sheriff’s office.

Authorities watched as Lopes allegedly left a package behind a dumpster that contained a gram of suspected heroin.

During a subsequent search of his home, police say they recovered an additional 9 grams of suspected heroin and $150 cash.

Lopes was arrested on a charge of possessing a Class A substance with intent to distribute. He and Croteau will face additional charges of delivering drugs or articles to prisoners in a correctional institution or jail and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

At the time of his arrest, sheriff’s officials say Lopes was out on bail from New Bedford District Court for multiple firearms charges. His bail has since been revoked.

“This is a perfect example of law enforcement agencies working together to increase public safety,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson said in a statement. “A gram of heroin costs about $50-$100 on the street, but is worth ten times that amount inside a prison. Drugs inside a jail can cause many problems and safety risks for inmates and staff, so we want to thank the Fairhaven and Acushnet PDs, District Attorney Tom Quinn and his staff, and the State Police for their cooperation to help us keep drugs out of the jail.”

In a statement, Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said, “I am very pleased with the cooperative effort to investigate this very serious charge. Law enforcement agencies are much more effective when they are working together, and that is something my office is striving to do.”

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