Police: Fentanyl Dealt from Lowell ‘dorm’
LOWELL -- A Lowell man was arrested on fentanyl-trafficking charges Saturday at Edge Merrimack River, a private dormitory across the street from Lowell High School.
Lowell police obtained a search warrant for 27-year-old Jonathan Gacek’s unit in the building located at 1 Merrimack Plaza, according to court filings. Police arrived on scene about 11:13 a.m.
According to the police narrative, Gacek was under a comforter in his bed when police entered his room in the unit. He was escorted to the kitchen area. A detective asked Gacek if he possessed narcotics.
“Jonathan informed this detective there should be a little over 10 grams in the top drawer in his bedroom,” a police report states. “Jonathan stated that he knew it was fentanyl and he only middled deals to make money.”
Gacek reportedly informed police that his roommate, who was present at the time police arrived, was not involved in drugs. His roommate also had three other friends present in the apartment during the search.
Police found 36 grams of fentanyl and a digital scale in Gacek’s dresser drawer and $598 in cash in one of his pants pockets, according to a police report. Court documents show that Gacek had active warrants out of Lawrence and Ayer.
According to UMass Lowell spokesperson Christine Gillette, Gacek is not a student at UMass Lowell and no students of the university were involved in the incident.
The Fire Department also responded to the scene about 12:30 p.m. and were on scene for about an hour and a half, according to Fire Chief Jeff Winward.
“We had two hazmat technicians that identified the substance and then neutralized it,” Winward said, adding that no one required medical attention.
During the search, there appeared to be “a large amount of fentanyl powder loosely scattered on Jonathan’s bedroom dresser,” a police report says.
Gacek was escorted to a prisoner transport wagon and placed in shackles due to a disability with his arm that prevents him from being handcuffed.
He was arraigned in Lowell District Court Monday on a charge of trafficking more than 10 grams of fentanyl. He was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing that was scheduled for Jan. 22.
The development of the private Edge Merrimack River dormitory faced much controversy and pushback in the city. The $40 million project had its ribbon-cutting ceremony in August 2017. There are 156 units and 414 beds in the building. The site was previously the headquarters of the Lowell Five bank.
The building was developed by Vision Properties, which is based in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Designed to provide a “high-end urban lifestyle” to its residents, the facility had difficulty recruiting UMass Lowell students when it first opened in 2017.
UMass Lowell has criticized the project in the past for advertising the dormitory as a place where students could “live life on the edge.” The university also expressed concerns with students living with non-students.
“Recent police reports of a fentanyl drug seizure at Edge Merrimack River apartments continue to underscore the concerns UMass Lowell has raised regarding the safety of university students living next door to non-students with minimal supervision,” Gillette said in a statement. “The university continues to remind students and parents of the financial aid, educational, safety and security benefits that are only available by living in university residence halls.”
A representative from Vision Properties, which is owned by Rick Shaffer, did not return multiple phone calls and an email from The Sun for comment Tuesday.