By Dave Rogers
---- — MERRIMAC — A sex offender believed to sell crack cocaine in the Greater Newburyport area and known on the streets as “Snoop Dogg” was arrested Wednesday at his girlfriend’s Greenleaf Park apartment, marking the culmination of a month-long operation, according to local police.
Peter Serrano, 34, of 790 Main St., No. 2, Haverhill, was arraigned yesterday at Newburyport District Court on four counts of class B drug possession (crack cocaine) with intent to distribute, four counts of conspiring to violate drugs laws and a heroin possession charge. He also had a warrant for his arrest out of Haverhill District Court for not registering as a sex offender. He is being held on $10,000 cash bail and is due back in court Nov. 15 for a pretrial hearing.
According to Merrimac police Chief Eric Shears, Serrano was arrested Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. inside his girlfriend’s Greenleaf Park apartment, where he had been staying, after selling an undercover police officer $120 worth of crack cocaine. At the same time, police arrested his girlfriend, Tyla J. Ellis, 26, of 4A Greenleaf Park, Merrimac.
Ellis was charged with distributing a class B substance, possession of a class E substance and a previous warrant for reckless endangerment of a child. Shears said the child endangerment charge is based on Ellis allegedly bringing her 7-year-old daughter along on one of the drugs deals conducted by her boyfriend. In surveillance photos included in court documents, Ellis is shown driving Serrano back to their apartment building and walking with him and her daughter, shortly before one of the alleged drug buys. At her arraignment at the Newburyport courthouse, Ellis was released on personal recognizance until a pretrial hearing scheduled for Nov. 15.
At the time of Serrano’s arrest, police found 23 crack cocaine rocks with a street value of $690, marijuana and $586 in cash, including $120 Merrimac police had used to purchase four crack cocaine rocks, according to Shears.
“We don’t usually see that kind of activity in Merrimac,” Shears said, adding that the Greenleaf Park apartment complex is not known as a hot spot for drug deals.
Wednesday’s buy was the fourth conducted by undercover police officers over the course of about a month starting Sept. 26. All the buys took place around Ellis’ Greenleaf Park residence, according to court records.
Shears said Serrano’s arrest was made possible by the close cooperation between Merrimac police Officer Robert Coppola, Amesbury police and Salisbury police. Also playing a part was a federal grant that Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury police have been awarded the last two years: the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Grant program. Assisting in the arrests were Shears, Amesbury police detectives David Pare and Sean Leary, Amesbury police officer Thomas Nichols, Merrimac police officers Richard Holcroft, Steven Ringuette and several Salisbury police officers.
“The cooperation lead to the arrest of a substantial street-level drug dealer getting him off the streets,” Shears said.
Police are continuing its investigation into the matter and checking with area agencies to determine Serrano’s sex offender classification, Shears said.