Holyoke Responds to Drug Problem in the City

In the last two weeks, law enforcement officials have made a number of drug related arrests in Holyoke, dismantling two significant drug rings in the city. But this is only the first step in the process.

Holyoke is a small city with some big city problems, according to Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger. Among the top items, is the drug trade.

“Our main drug problem probably is heroin, followed by cocaine and crack and other various drugs.”

Located on what is known as the drug corridor, a stretch of highway formed by Interstate I-91 that connects New York City to Canada, a fair amount of drugs move through the city. Combine this with the highest poverty rate in the state and an abundance of rental units, the result according toNeiswanger  is an environment conducive to this sort of criminal behavior.

“Those offer some unique challenges. Holyoke is a social service community and that’s what the city is working through right now.”

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse says the city is responding the problem proactively and will continue to crack down.

“Those folks in the city that do have operations related to drugs and other illegal activities we want them to know that we are watching to them, and we are more vigilant than we have been in the past. A raid can happen at any point. They are going to continue.”
Neiswanger says the arrests will only “take the wind out of the sails” of the narcotics trade in Holyoke. He believes a combined effort of  the mayor, charitable organizations, his officers and even the school system will be necessary to solve the problem.