Metro

Police inquiry busts alleged drug dealer at North Reading restaurant

North Reading police completed a six-month investigation with the arrest of a 57-year-old man who had allegedly been selling drugs out of a Main Street restaurant, officials said.

The investigation of Richard “Ricky” Ward, of North Reading, began in December 2013. A police task force found that Ward was a regular at the restaurant, where surveillance footage showed him selling drugs out of the bathroom and parking lot, according to John Guilfoil, a spokesman for the police.

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A statement from Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office identified the restaurant as the China Cuisine Restaurant at 235 Main St.

Late Thursday, Ward was arrested and police seized two ounces of cocaine, a pound of marijuana, prescription pills, and steroids from his home, Guilfoil said in a statement. Earlier that day, he allegedly sold cocaine to undercover police officers on two occasions, Guilfoil added.

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Ward was arraigned in Woburn District Court on Friday on charges including distribution of a Class B substance, trafficking in cocaine, possession of a Class B and Class E substance, and possession with intent to distribute a Class D substance, the police spokesman said.

Ward was held on $20,000 cash bail and will reappear in court June 12 for a probable cause hearing, prosecutors said.

“I am extremely proud of the diligent, patient work performed by our North Reading Police Detectives,” Police Chief Michael P. Murphy said in the statement. “This was a long case that developed over a period of several months that has removed a drug dealer from the community of North Reading. We will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who thinks that they can deal drugs in our community.”

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Ward is not an employee of the restaurant, but had been spending about eight hours a day in the establishment, the statement said.

State Police, District Attorney Ryan’s office, and the Southern Middlesex Regional Drug Task Force assisted North Reading in this investigation, the statement said.

Melissa Hanson can be reached at melissa.hanson@globe.com or on Twitter @Melissa__Hanson.
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