BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — DANVERS — A Danvers teenager has been charged with trafficking in methamphetamine after a monthlong investigation by Danvers police and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Riley Fraser, 17, of 11 Poplar St. was arrested at his home after a search Monday turned up about an ounce of methamphetamine, as well as almost 7 ounces of marijuana, in his bedroom, along with scales, plastic bags and $2,500 in cash, said Sgt. David Joyce, the Danvers police prosecutor.
Fraser’s attorney, however, said the drugs found by investigators were not methamphetamine but a legal, nonprescription drug. Fraser pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also included marijuana possession with intent to distribute, during his arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court.
Joyce said some of the drugs were found in a safe, along with pill “gel caps,” a means of packaging meth.
Joyce asked Judge Matthew Machera to set bail at $10,000, pointing to Fraser’s juvenile record.
Fraser’s lawyer, Paul Moraski, urged a lower bail, saying his client has every reason to return to court, where he expects to be vindicated after the drugs are tested.
Moraski said his client left school at 16 but earned his GED and now takes computer classes at North Shore Community College.
The judge set bail at $5,000.
Methamphetamine, a powerful and addictive stimulant drug, has been a scourge in other parts of the country but has not gained wide distribution in New England.
Last year, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett attributed that in part to the availability of other drugs, particularly heroin, which has been a significant issue on the North Shore. Blodgett’s comments came after a makeshift “meth lab” was found in a room at the Holiday Inn.
In January, a Salem woman was arrested by state police on methamphetamine charges after a traffic stop in Boston.
A probable cause hearing in Fraser’s case was scheduled for May 13.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.