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Police in Taunton, Brockton battle heroin epidemic

As Taunton police investigated their city’s seventh suspected heroin death of the year, authorities in Brockton said they had removed a heroin dealer from the streets of that city.

A Brockton District Court judge set bail for 21-year-old Cody A. Goncalves at $200,000 after State Police said they found him with 400 grams of heroin, 150 grams of which they allege he was carrying and 250 grams they say was seized from his Brockton home Friday.

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Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said it was the largest heroin seizure he is aware of in the county since the start of the year.

“I’m hopeful that this makes a dent in the city of Brockton, but we need to stay vigilant and hopefully keep this poison off the streets,” Cruz said.

He added that he is asking the state to accelerate its testing of the heroin allegedly seized from Goncalves to determine whether it was laced with fentanyl, a potent painkiller. So far, authorities have not seen heroin mixed with fentanyl in Plymouth County, he said.

Massachusetts has been grappling with a surge in heroin, with the narcotic taking the lives of at least 185 people in the last four months, according to a state tally.

Authorities were led to Goncalves after an informant told officers about a large-scale heroin deal set to take place in Brockton, according to a statement filed in court.

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Officers set up surveillance around Goncalves’s home and at another location where they were told a drug deal would take place. Officers watched Goncalves exit a gray Nissan sedan at his home, go inside, and then reenter the car before it took off, the report said.

About five minutes later, officers saw Goncalves get out of the car and walk toward a Dunkin’ Donuts, where the deal was to take place. Goncalves saw officers watching and ran, officials said. He was caught after a brief chase on foot.

Aside from heroin, Goncalves was carrying 3.5 grams of cocaine, two cellphones, and $332, the report said. At his home, officers found three loaded firearms, ammunition, about $40,000 in cash, packaging materials, scales, a money counter, and paperwork, authorities said.

Goncalves’s lawyer, Michael A. Vitali, downplayed the significance of the arrest, saying he does not consider this to be “a big investigation.”

“He’s looking forward to having the opportunity to fight the charges in court,” Vitali said. “He has a relatively minor criminal history compared to others that are charged with similar crimes.”

Goncalves pleaded not guilty Monday to charges including drug trafficking and firearms allegations. He was already on probation after pleading guilty to three firearms charges in July, court records show.

In Taunton, police said that heroin’s toll continued to mount: Another man died of a suspected heroin overdose Friday, said Police Chief Edward Walsh.

Walsh said the victim was John D. Roster Jr., 46, the son of a former police captain. Firefighters were called to the home Roster shared with his parents for a report of a possible overdose just before 8 p.m. Friday, police said. His mother found Roster at the bottom of the basement stairs, Walsh said.

“Based on the evidence we found at the scene, the interviews we did, we made the determination that it was heroin-based,” he said. Among the items found were a needle and baggie associated with heroin use, Walsh said.

Roster’s sister, Cheryl Woodward, said the cause of her brother’s death has not been determined but declined further comment.

Taunton police said two other people survived heroin overdoses since Friday.

On Monday, a 14-year-old boy who was home sick from school called authorities after finding his mother unresponsive, said Officer Joseph Balmain. She was revived after receiving a dose of Narcan, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, police said.

On Friday, authorities were called to a home on Everett Avenue for a report of a woman not breathing. Narcan was also administered to her, and she was taken to Morton Hospital for treatment, Walsh said.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com.

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