More than 60 alleged gang members have been charged and more than 70 guns seized as part of a major drug and firearms investigation, local and federal law enforcement announced Thursday.
Sixty-six people from Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, and surrounding areas were charged with federal and state firearm and drug charges, including federal RICO conspiracy charges related to an attempted murder, according to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. Forty of them were arrested Thursday, and three were already in custody. The 23 remaining suspects are wanted as federal and state fugitives.
"These individuals shot to kill and moved guns around the state freely," Ortiz said.
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The arrests were carried out early Thursday morning by more than 400 federal, state and local law enforcement officers in Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Quincy, Brockton and Stoughton. Hundreds of grams of heroin were seized, along with about $100,000 in cash.
Ortiz said the 14-month-long investigation targeted drug and firearms trafficking in Boston, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, including members and associates of four gangs. She said the operation impacted communities like Chelsea, East Boston, Brockton, Lynn, Revere, Saugus, Everett and Malden.
She said the investigation revealed significant cocaine, crack and heroin dealing committed by gang members, many of which were supplied through a Brockton-based drug network.
The operation focused on four criminal street gangs operating in the Boston area.
It started with a Bureau Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigation into drug and firearms trafficking by the 18th Street Gang, a multinational gang with cells in Central America and across the U.S.
That quickly evolved to include three additional gangs that had formed an alliance with the 18th Street Gang - the East Side Money Gang out of Chelsea, the Orient Heights Gang in East Boston and the Boylston Gang in Boston and Brockton.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called the operation "an incredible step forward to saving lives," saying that many of the firearms seized "would have taken young people's lives."
He urged people to remain vigilant, and report any illegal activity to Boston Police.
"This is going to take a whole community," Walsh said.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said the arrests send an important message to gang members in the area.
"If you're going to be involved in gangs, we're going to be on you.. and we're going to take you down," he said.
Ortiz noted that this is just the latest in a series of crackdowns on gangs operating in and around the Boston area over the past year. She cited earlier operations involving the Columbia Point Dawgs, MS-13 and the Lenox Street Cardinals.
"Our work is not done," she said. "We will remain vigilant and we will continue our presence."