Drug dealer accepts deal

NASHUA – One of the two men arrested last year in the city’s largest heroin bust has pleaded guilty and will serve at least 10 years in prison, court records show.

Jury selection for the second man’s trial is scheduled for Tuesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Radhames Melo, 32, formerly of 190 Ledge St., was scheduled to stand trial this week on heroin-dealing charges but instead pleaded guilty and was sentenced Jan. 9, court records show.

Melo and his lawyer, Matthew Kluger of the Bronx, N.Y., struck a deal with Assistant County Attorney Michael Zaino calling for Melo to admit to both sales and conspiracy charges, in exchange for the sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison. Melo also agreed to repay Nashua police $970, money they spent buying heroin from the men through an informant.

Soiluis Nieves, 20, formerly of 26A Perham St., is scheduled to stand trial next week on similar charges. The two men were arrested in June, charged with selling heroin that Nieves swallowed in dense, plug-shaped bags and smuggled from the Dominican Republic via New York.

Nieves would drink laxative and purge the bags at a hotel after returning to New York, moving about 50 bags each time, police said. Each of the bags held about 10 grams of pure heroin, more than enough to kill Nieves if the bag came open inside him, police said.

Police seized a total of about 357 grams of heroin when they raided the men’s homes, including 31 of the plugs of the pure heroin stashed in the sleeve of a coat in Nieves’ closet, detectives reported.

Ten grams may not look or sound like much, but heroin is typically sold at street level in bags of about 50 milligrams, or five-hundredths of a gram, for $10 to $20 a bag. Also, police said the men would dilute (“step on”) the heroin, roughly tripling its volume, before selling it to lower-level dealers around the Nashua area.

Nieves declined to speak with police after his arrest, police said, but Melo waived his rights and “made full admissions into selling the illicit drug heroin,” police said. Both men have been jailed since their arrests, and the time Melo spent there will count toward his sentence.