At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Saturday trooper Randy Morales, assigned to State Police Leominster, was patrolling Route 495 in Berlin when he observed a black Chevrolet Suburban unsafely change lanes and swerve over the lane markings on the road. He followed the vehicle and noted the inspection sticker was listed as failed since June of 2017.
Trooper Morales activated his emergency lights and sirens and pulled the vehicle over in the breakdown lane. As he approached the vehicle he noticed various liquor boxes stacked to the roofline filling almost the entire passenger compartment. Trooper Morales identified the operator as JIA CHEN, 36, of Flushing, N.Y., and began to investigate further.
In Massachusetts it is illegal to transport more than 3 gallons of liquor without a permit. Individuals violating this are commonly looking to purchase alcohol in states without liquor tax for purposes of transporting and illegally reselling the liquor without licenses and permits in other areas. This circumvents the ability for local agencies to regulate the sale of liquor and hurts legitimate businesses operating legally.
CHEN did not possess any permits or licenses allowing him to transport this amount of alcohol. He was removed from the vehicle and placed under arrest. Troopers inventoried the vehicle and seized over $36,000 worth of alcohol. They also noticed the floor structure of the Suburban was altered and reinforced to hold heavy loads.
CHEN was transported to SP Leominster where bail was placed at $240. He was scheduled to be arraigned at Clinton District Court this morning on the following charges:
- Unlawful Transport of Liquor;
- Marked lanes Violation; and
- Operating a Motor Vehicle with Failed Inspection.