BOSTON, July 9, 2012—Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, joined by local, state, and federal partners, today delivered the following remarks on the results of a 13-month investigation into the Guzman Drug Trafficking Organization and this morning’s early-morning takedown:
“Good afternoon. I’m joined by Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis; Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers of the Boston Field Office of the FBI; Commissioner Luis Spencer of the Massachusetts Department of Correction; and Chief Paul Oxford of DOC Investigative Services.
“Also with us are Lieutenant Detective Robert Harrington of the Boston Police Special Investigations Unit; Lieutenant Detective Robert Merner of the BPD Drug Control Unit; Lieutenant Gerard Bailey of the BPD Youth Violence Strike Force; Assistant District Attorneys Macy Lee and Kathleen Celio of our Narcotics Unit; Boston Police Detective and FBI Task Force Officer Juan Seoane; and FBI Special Agent Ryan O’Neil.
“We’re here to announce the results of Operation Rodeo, an investigation targeting a violent, multi-million dollar drug trafficking enterprise based here in the City of Boston. It is the largest investigation and takedown of a Boston-area drug trafficking organization I can recall in my 10 years as Suffolk District Attorney.
“Beginning shortly after sunrise and continuing through the morning, officers and detectives of the Boston Police Department and special agents of the FBI executed 16 simultaneous search and seizure warrants on residences and motor vehicles in Boston, Canton, and Milton. At the start of business today, they executed additional warrants on nine accounts and one safety deposit box at three banking locations in downtown Boston. Investigators are still tallying the seizures, but the most recent count is more than $170,000 in cash and four motor vehicles, including a Mercedes SUV.
“As a result of those warrants and seizures, 14 individuals have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. Additional complaints are likely to follow, including separate charges against three defendants accused of laundering the proceeds through their bank accounts and, in some cases, doing so while receiving unemployment and other state and federal benefits.
“The defendants are accused of importing and distributing cocaine. We believe the source of that cocaine was Mexico and we allege that its destination was the streets of Boston.
“Moreover, based on intelligence developed by the Boston Police Youth Violence Strike Force, Special Investigations Unit, and Boston Regional Intelligence Center, we believe many of these individuals are active, driving members of the Boylston street gang, which has been engaged in a deadly feud with its Mozart rivals for almost five years now.
“The primary target of this investigation is JUAN GUZMAN, age 33 and a former resident of Hyde Park. Guzman is currently incarcerated in the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord following his successful prosecution on gun and drug charges last year by our Gang Unit. Guzman is a major Boylston impact player.
“The evidence developed over the past 13 months indicates that Guzman, aided and enabled by an inner circle of top-level distributors and confidantes, ran a multi-million dollar cocaine trafficking business even while behind bars. This is a group that regularly used violence to achieve its ends and diligently posted bails as high as $50,000 when its members were arrested.
“The investigation has revealed shipments of as much as 40 kilograms of cocaine at a time coming into Boston through this group, with yearly imports believed to be in the hundreds of kilograms. Some of that cocaine was obtained through controlled purchases and tested at greater than 90% purity. If you imagine a pyramid with narcotics manufacturers at the very top and street-level users at the very bottom, the Guzman Drug Trafficking Organization – with its wholesalers, distributors, and financial managers – would be within the top third of the structure.
“Today’s arrests amounted to a corporate takedown. The managing partners are behind bars and their product is out of circulation.
“I would like to commend the countless men and women who brought this investigation to fruition. Boston Police, Suffolk prosecutors, and FBI agents undertook thousands of hours of physical surveillance, forensic accounting, translation services, GPS tracking, and debriefing of confidential sources. Very notably, it included a tremendous amount of electronic surveillance as well, with police and prosecutors going to court on nine separate dates to obtain warrants for wiretaps on no fewer than 12 different phones used by Guzman associates.
“The Guzman Drug Trafficking Organization was a street gang that grew into a massive, homegrown criminal syndicate. But there are other gangs out there just as violent, just as dangerous, just as destabilizing to their communities, and just as intent on growing and expanding as the Guzman Organization did. The wiretaps that proved so valuable in dismantling this ring would be just as powerful if put to use against other gangs, but the current state of the law means that violence – even deadly violence – is not enough to warrant a wiretap. We have to wait until they become big enough, organized enough, and powerful enough to qualify as ‘organized crime.’
“It’s been more than a year since Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court urged the Legislature to fix the wiretap statute. In his words, “electronic surveillance is unavailable to investigate and prosecute the hundreds of shootings and killings committed by street gangs in Massachusetts, which are among the most difficult to solve and prosecute.” I would call upon the Legislature to heed those words and open other violent gangs up to the same tactics that brought down the Guzman Drug Trafficking Organization before they reach this scale.
“Today’s actions are a warning to anyone who would try to pick up where Guzman and his associates left off – that we are watching, we are listening, and we intend to use every lever at our disposal to stop the flow of drugs into Boston and Massachusetts. It’s also a message to residents that while stemming the flow of drugs is often frustrating and never easy, for the health and safety of our children and our communities, it is work that must be done and we will not relent in our efforts.”
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.