SALEM — A Salem man found guilty last week of dealing heroin while living over a day care center was sentenced yesterday to 71/2 to 12 years in state prison.
That’s because it was at least the fourth time that Pedro Duran Alix, 49, has been convicted of drug distribution charges in a criminal career that dates back to the 1980s.
And that’s not the most serious offense on his record, which includes a conviction for manslaughter in the 1986 stabbing death of a Salem man. His record also includes other crimes of violence, said the judge.
“It appears Mr. Alix has just dedicated himself to a life of crime,” said Salem Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead, who imposed the sentence.
The judge went on to call the case “the ultimate school-zone violation.”
“How much worse a situation could it be to have preschool kids and a drug dealer in the same building?” Whitehead commented before sentencing Alix to five to seven years on the heroin possession with intent to distribute charge to be followed by another 21/2 to five years for dealing drugs near a school or a park.
Alix was living with his mother at 92 Congress St. in March 2012 when he came onto the radar of Salem police detectives, who had obtained a search warrant for the second-floor apartment.
The building also housed Community Child Care and was across the street from Mary Jane Lee Park.
On the morning of March 15, 2012, police found nearly half an ounce of heroin divided among six bags, as well as digital scales, a ledger and numerous plastic sandwich bags with the corners cut off.
Yesterday, prosecutor Jean Curran used some of the other items found when police searched the apartment — including Alix’s MassHealth and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, a driver’s license, and his passport — to connect him to his lengthy criminal record.
She also showed the judge certified copies of three prior drug convictions, which were needed to show that his guilty finding by a Salem jury on Friday was a subsequent offense.
Defense lawyer William O’Hare cited his client’s ties to his mother, two children and two grandchildren, and asked the judge to impose only the minimum mandatory sentences, a total of six years.
O’Hare stressed that none of the undercover drug purchases made by Salem police prior to obtaining the search warrant took place inside the building.
Whitehead was not persuaded.
“The record is terrible,” said the judge. “Mr. Alix has spent almost his entire adult life in prison.”
His first trip to prison came in 1987 after he was found guilty in the stabbing death of Sean Kelley, 19, of Salem, after a verbal altercation. He was originally charged with murder, but the jury returned a manslaughter verdict. Alix, then 21, was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison, according to the case docket.
The judge yesterday also ordered the forfeiture of $960 in cash found during the 2012 search. He is also facing the forfeiture of his car.
Alix has been in custody at Middleton Jail since his arrest. Yesterday, the judge denied a request to delay his transfer to state prison until after Christmas, citing concerns about security, given the lengthy sentence Alix had just received.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.