Police seized more than 100 pounds of marijuana, in addition to nearly $10,000 cash and two weapons, in a drug bust on Friday. Sun/ David Brow
LOWELL -- Three men were arrested and more than 100 pounds of high-grade marijuana was seized Friday evening in bust stemming from a monthlong investigation into gang activity and drugs, police said.
Police arrested Jeffrey R. Lach, 24, of 1217 Pawtucket Blvd., Unit 56, Son Minh Tran, 31, of 110 Rock St., Apt. 1, and Virak P. Prum, 20, of 40 West Adams St., after officers witnessed them conducting a drug transaction in a municipal parking lot on Leroy Street, Lowell police Sgt. James Trudel said.
According to Trudel, police followed Lach and Tran from Lach's home to the Leroy Street lot. Police then watched as Lach and Tran carried out the transaction with Prum, exchanging cardboard boxes stuffed with bags of marijuana for cash, Trudel said.
Police closed in immediately, apprehending the men without incident.
"They were very nervous but they didn't resist arrest," Trudel said.
Searches of the men's homes turned up more contraband, police said. At Lach's residence, police said they found an additional 60 to 70 pounds of marijuana as well as two automatic handguns. The serial numbers on one of handguns had been filed off, making it difficult to trace, Trudel said.
A money-counting machine and an undetermined amount of cash was recovered from Tran's home. Trudel estimated that between the bust and the search, the amount of money netted in the bust totalled about $10,000.
The confiscated marijuana, which police believe was imported from Canada, has an estimated street value of about $300,000, Trudel said.
Police also confiscated a number of cell phones the suspects were carrying when they were arrested. Trudel said that the phones were ringing nonstop throughout the night, and officers began answering the calls.
The parking lot where the bust occurred has a long history of drug-related arrests, partly because it has many of the qualities dealers look for in a meeting spot, Trudel said.
"There are a lot of people and a lot of cars. They search out locations like that where they are inconspicuous," Trudel said.
The Leroy Street lot is just yards from Captain John's, where William Peters was killed in a bar fight early Wednesday morning.
However, aside from proximity, Friday's bust had no connection to Captain John's, police said.
All three suspects have been released on bail and are to be arraigned in Lowell District Court tomorrow.
Lach is facing charges of conspiracy to violate drug laws, felony trafficking marijuana, possession of a class-D drug with intent to distribute, illegal possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Tran is being charged with conspiracy to violate drug laws, felony trafficking marijuana and possession of a class-D drug with intent to distribute.
Prum is being charged with conspiracy to violate drug laws and possession of a class-D drug with intent to distribute. Trudel said that additional charges will likely be filed and more arrests are expected.