(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) - "This is real big, some of those names, we know them, this is a game changer in some streets nearby here," said Dorchester Youth Collaborative Executive Director Emmet Folgert.
Community activists and youth groups throughout Boston are breathing a sigh of relief after a huge early morning raid led to 27 gang-related arrests in the city and beyond.
"Today we are here to announce the dismantling of two Boston street gangs whose members have terrorized the community, intimidated witnesses and brought drugs and guns into our neighborhoods," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz said the collaborative operation involved undercover buys, wiretaps and extensive surveillance, eventually leading to the undoing of the Woodward Avenue and Hendry Street gangs, including their leaders, 31-year-old Alexis Hidalgo and 29-year-old Jonathan DaSilva.
DaSilva was allegedly operating out of a Langdon Street home, where he’s been arrested before.
"After that arrest four years ago, I personally went to that house and I met with DaSilva and I had a personal conversation with him and I said to him, Jon-Jon, if you continue this you’re going to go to federal prison for a long time. Today I am delivering on that promise," Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.
Officials say many of the alleged gang members could be tied to other violent crimes, especially in the Uphams Corner section of Roxbury and the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester, where Emmet Folgert has run Dorchester Youth Collaborative for more than three decades.
"It doesn’t just stop crime and violence in the neighborhood where they were pulled out of, it also stops it in the neighborhoods where their rivals are," Folgert said.
Folgert sees this as an opportunity to make an even bigger impact on the youth in this community.
"An operation like this that takes out so many impact players gives us a better chance to work with these young people, and that’s priceless," he said.
The district attorney says this was an interstate drug network, stretching from as far west as California, as far north as Maine and as far south as Miami.
After a nearly two year investigation called Operation Concord, 30 arrest warrants and 12 search warrants were executed Thursday morning.
One arrest was made in California, one arrest was made in Maine, 25 arrests were made in Massachusetts and one man remains on the run.
Commissioner Davis says he considers that man - 30-year-old Jackson Barros of Dorchester - a fugitive and urges him to turn himself in.