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Bunker Hill Housing Development Drug Ring Raided in 'Operation Tourniquet'

After 18 months of investigation, police swept through what they say is a drug ring centered on the Bunker Hill Housing Development. Twenty people were arrested Tuesday.

Twenty people allegedly connected with the drug trade at Bunker Hill Housing Development were arrested Monday in a police sweep dubbed "Operation Tourniquet."

Police say an 18-month investigation went into the arrests made at suspects' homes in Charlestown, Jamaica Plain and Everett. But while the alleged drug ring members lived in various parts of the region, their illegal business was focused on the Bunker Hill Housing Development, said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

Monday's arrests aren't connected with a May 25 that resulted in arrests and the , said police at a press conference held Monday afternoon at Boston Police Headquarters.

Agencies involved in the investigation included the Boston Police Area A Drug Control Unit, Everett Police, Boston Housing Police, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"These efforts send a clear message that individuals involved in violence have our full attention," Davis said. "We are very confident that we have removed a large number of very dangerous individuals from our streets, making it safer for individuals to work in concert with police and keep our neighborhoods safe."

Boston's top cop spoke in front of two tables filled with evidence from the raids, including three guns. Police say they seized "large levels" of heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and cash.

In addition to Monday's 20 arrests, a Suffolk County Grand Jury had previously indicted five "main targets" of Operation Tourniquet, according to the office of District Attorney Dan Conley.

John Foley, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston Division, lauded the arrests and the months of effort that preceeded them.

"As a result of today's arrests, Charlestown is safer now and for the foreseeable future than it was just hours ago," Foley said. "Gang members who try to fill the shoes of those arrested today should know we will soon be in pursuit."

The Bunker Hill Housing Project in Charlestown is a 1,110 unit housing community for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. It is managed by the Boston Housing Authority.

Bill McGonagle, administrator of the housing authority, said the persons charged in Monday's sweep would not be allowed back into public housing.

Below is a list of the twenty people arrested on Monday and the charges they face. All suspects have Boston addresses unless noted:

  • Rudy Machuca, 43 — Drug related warrant
  • Johnny Gomez, 64 — Possession with intent to distribute Class A drugs
  • Osvaldo Diaz, 35 — Possession with intent to distribute Class A drugs
  • Anthony Villanueva, 35 — Possession with intent to distribute Class A drugs
  • Minerva Mejia, 69 — Possession with intent to distribute Class A drugs
  • William Benjamin, 20 — Drug related warrant
  • Chris Freeman, 23 — Drug related warrant
  • Trevor Headley, 18 — Drug related warrant
  • Mark Moore, 34 — Drug related warrant
  • Daniel Campbell, 49 — Drug related warrant
  • Darnell Crump, 30, Duxbury —Trafficking Class B drugs
  • Nina Garcia, 41, Everett — Drug related warrant
  • Elisamuel Colon-Padilla, 29 — Drug related warrant
  • Ruth Lopez, 36 — Drug related warrant
  • Jose Nazario-Mercado, 18 — Armed robbery warrant
  • Jose Williams, 21 — Possession with intent to distribute Class A and B drugs
  • Angel Celado, 17 — Drug related warrant
  • Alexis Salerno, 24 — Possession with intent to distribute Class A drugs
  • Neftaly Salerno, 22 — Possession with intent to distribute Class A drugs

The five "main targets" of the probe are as follows. Their grand jury indictments were handed down on June 6:

  • Carl Benoit, 23,  of Dorchester, was charged with 12 counts each of distribution of a Class B substance and distribution of a Class B substance in a school zone, four counts each of trafficking in a Class B substance and trafficking in a Class B substance in a school zone, and three counts of distribution of a Class A substance and distribution of a Class A substance in a school zone
  • Kevin Denis, 20, of Brockton, was charged with two counts each of distribution of a Class B substance and distribution of a Class B substance in a school zone
  • Prince Denis, 21, of Brockton, charged with 13 counts each of distribution of a Class A substance and distribution of a Class A substance in a school zone and nine counts each of distribution of a Class B substance and distribution of a Class B substance in a school zone
  • Marvin LaFontant, 24, of Hyde Park, charged with one count each of distribution of a Class A substance and distribution of a Class A substance in a school zone.
  • Jonathan Abreu, 22, of Hyde Park — One count each of trafficking in a Class A substance, trafficking in a Class A substance in a school zone, and possession of a Class B substance with intent to distribute. The DA's office said he was "initially charged via warrant on the trafficking charges in connection with Operation Tourniquet, Abreau was arrested at his Crown Point Drive residence with an additional bag of cocaine, two cell phones, multiple plastic baggies, a ski mask, and an inoperable replica firearm. He was held on a total of $10,100 cash bail." He is among those arrested on Monday.

[Editor's note: Information on additional charges from the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley has been added to this post.]

PattyK June 13, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Good luck keeping them out...they'll probably just change their names and re-apply for housing. you should have to be fingerprinted and pass a cori to get in public housing.
Kasey Hariman June 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Out of a community of 1,100 housing units (so at least a couple thousand residents, likely), 20 people were arrested. 20 arrests isn't insignificant, but should the thousands of other folks in that development not live in Charlestown just because they have a few alleged bad apples as neighbors?
john doe June 13, 2012 at 03:39 PM
What some people call police work, others who know better call it destroying lives. Out of 20 persons arrested in a so called "drug ring", 10 of them are innocent, 7 of them use drugs, and maybe 3 of them sell drugs. Evidence found "one small scale, and less than $1,000 worth actual drugs" but yet 20+ people arrested...hurray for the so called "successful drug bust". Open your eyes America!
Kerri June 13, 2012 at 04:44 PM
10 are innocent!!! I doubt that seriously... If they were in that situation and around the so called evidence they are not! I think they all need to move out of Charlestown and make it back to the way it was 20 years ago!
Jason Telly June 13, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Im sure the police and FBI didnt spend 18 months investigating "innocent" people. Give them some credit. I'd take even ONE less drug user/dealer in my neighborhood so 20 works for me!
Jason Telly June 13, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Im sure there are plenty white dealers in town too.
LMD June 13, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Reading the names.I realize that these are not "Townies' but the new breed that has moved into the area.
Seamus O'Sullivan June 13, 2012 at 08:51 PM
The undercurrent of racism here is absolutely absurd. I guess par for the course for townies.
Jason Telly June 13, 2012 at 10:22 PM
"kno" is actually spelled "know" and if they "KNEW" he was involved then we would all KNOW when he was arrested. Its called police work so let them do their job and you concentrate on that English course.
Matt M. Casey (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 11:53 PM
A comment in this thread has been deleted because it made a criminal accusation. If you have information about a crime, please bring it to the police.
Lisa McGoff Collins June 14, 2012 at 12:49 AM
again Seamus, are you sure these people making the comments are "townies". like you people don't use their real names so you really don't know who they are.
joey banannas June 14, 2012 at 01:35 AM
boston housing moves all these animals around so thats why they bring their b.s. and gangs here. these animals get in a beef in roxbury so housing moves them here and they bring all their problems and guns and drugs here
Kerri Singleton June 14, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Let me rephrase my comment as I dont want to me labled a RACISIT which is clearly not the case. I grew up in those projects, lived On Corey St for well over 12 years before moving to Newtowne. We had black family, spanish and puerto ricans families. It was a diverse neightborhood at that time. What we didnt have was the bloods and crypts living in the projects carryiing guns and making Townies not want to walk through there. We had crime yes and it was our own people. What we didnt have was elderly men being beaten for their wallet in the projects or women being mugged walking down Bunkerhill street with her kids. We had drug abuse and lots of robberies. So please if you make comments about how people feel then you clearly dont know what Charlestown used to be like.
Kerri Singleton June 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM
I clearly didnt spell check either!
jaz sony June 14, 2012 at 04:39 PM
what a waste of 18 mo and most of them were arrested w outstanding warrents that were from ctown all were out the same day. good job to all those agencys involved like what, 5 of them
Somerville Home Owner June 16, 2012 at 05:05 PM
john doe: I'm also skeptical about 10 being innocent. Where did you get this info? Jason Telly: I have heard from several people in law enforcement that once they start a case and spend time & money building a case on suspects, they make sure that they find something. They cannot just say "oops we are wrong" and let it go. That thinking concerns me.
Somerville Home Owner June 16, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Today's "new breed" are the "townies" of tomorrow. Just like the "townies" of today were the "new breed" of yesterday. History repeats itself. From what I heard, Charlestown wasn't exactly crime free before the "new breed" showed up.
Somerville Home Owner June 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM
So are you saying the criminals of the past had a set of ethics that didn't stoop as low as they do today? It may seem that way, but I'd argue it's all rationalization.
Somerville Home Owner June 16, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Kasey: I understand your logic, but remember these are the ones that were caught. The issue is that when you set up huge housing projects for lower income folks, society sort of forgets about them... out of sight, out of mind. Crime brews until it is out of control. Those few bad apples are not kept in check, and it grows like a cancer. I think what many argue is that it is better to have housing policies that provide actual diversity without clustering.
JohnDoe June 17, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Who is they and them? Fact: The "Townies" keep these drug dealers in business. Walking down the street all higher then the sky with their children in tow. Ashame. In the project hallways marking up their arms and sleeping on the stairs. Families are walking out their door and their children eyes are expose to such disgrace. 20+ yrs ago doesnt sound any better than Charlestown today. I guess Mobsters are more respectable than Gangsters. I guess ramming your car into another in broad daylight aint nothing but a chicken wang. I guess if you are an original Townie you cant do no wrong. LOL out at these fools and foolish comments. Guns and drugs is ancient in Charlestown. Ha Animals. Look at your reflection.
Kerri Singleton June 18, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I am not making excuses or trying to rationalize anything. I know what that town used to be and what it is now. I moved from Charlestown but my mother still lives in Charlestown she is a lifer. She is also in a wheelchair and has to go through the projects on a daily basis and I worry for her. Would I have had to worry about her 20 years ago going through there on her wheelchair.. NO.
Seamus O'Sullivan June 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM
"I don't want to sound racist" = what racist people say before they say something racist.
Kerri Singleton June 18, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Seamus you are a clown, and you really dont know how to read either! I made a previous comment and wanted to clarify. Can you please let my black, spanish and asian friends know Im a racist. Im sure they would like to know.
Ben Dover June 22, 2012 at 07:38 AM
so who was the gang leader, the 69 yr old lady or the 64 yr old man?? if they were so good at selling drugs why would they still live in the bunker hill projects. the only person missing was kerri's mother, here is your next headline..."old lady in wheelchair arrested for money laundering in historical drug raid". i can really sleep safely now.
Ben Dover June 22, 2012 at 07:43 AM
@ somerville...you are completely correct, law enforcement will never admit they are wrong...so they arrest innocent people instead. #that kind of thinking concerns me.
Winter Hill 02145 June 26, 2012 at 05:17 AM
an 18 month investigation and no kilos or large amounts of cash ? .... dont they have bigger fish to fry ? ..... at least they got 20 individuals to interrogate wich a few might fold and rat on the big guys
abigail moore August 15, 2012 at 06:18 AM
well my name is abigail moore, and my childrens father mark moore was caught up in this mess and im speaking from first hand knowledge. I might even become a target after this comment, but im sick and tired of living in a negelectful town of complainers. Ive lived here with my three children for 7yrs. and is been nothing but hell. Drugs has always been a problem her since i moved here in 04. i pretty much keep to myself, but am pretty close with my direct neighbors in my building, and we have all been complaing of this issue for yrs. and the management did nothing to help us.The last straw for me was my 9yr. old daughter got attacked by a crack head right in our hallway after going to the store for orange juice.After the incodent with my daughter i tried several times to meet with the housing manager so report this and left several messages and still to this day i got no responce i made up my mind to get the hell out of here. I get my head together and stared doing whatever it took to make extra money to save up and get my family out of this drug infested, raciest, dangerious environment. i needed to inlist there dad to help out with the care of the children, due to the fact i was also working over nite twice a week. He comes here to help me with his kids and ends up screwing up his and our lives..i honestly think the FBI does make mistakes..they said they did an ivestgation and got some wrong information.my childrens fathers only crim is knowing the wrong ppl and being black
abigail moore August 15, 2012 at 06:39 AM
sorry, its the truth, ive seen alot and still see alot. no one listens and then they lump everyone in together...they raided my house which had nothing, pushed and scared the crap out of my son and all for nothing.called me at work and told me get home now or there calling cps....i just dont get it.....now as a result of this im being evicted with three little children because there dad got raid in our apartment, the FBI, also attached someone else to my apartment when he wasnt arrested here and i dont even know this person..im greatful for the police tring to clean up the neighbor hood, but in this case there screwing up a family...i feel like these projects are not for working familys its set up to keep the police having a job, and keep there residents in a open jail..my children cant even play outside..so i guess when were on the streets theyll have more than enough room to run around..Im trough with charlestown, and Mass period...its hard for minoritys to make it here...were dommed right from the start...they need to investigate the top of the monument hill....theres tones of drug activity going on up there....l know this for a fact...Charlestown is full of drug heads, alcoholics, and prostitutes......but that doesnt mean there arnt ppl here that r really just trying to live a healty lifstyle and are just lumped in with the bad seeds, i mean i cant even get a cab in or out of here....it really sucks.....i give up..
abigail moore August 15, 2012 at 04:11 PM
i agree........this place is full of racism.....my children have been called niggers twice by my white neighbors....i grew up in Brooklyn N.y., where blacks and jews were always going at it....i lived right next door to a jewish family and was never called that word...i guess they saw my mom working hard us going to church, and we were very quiet....myself and their kids would have play dates together, they took me with them on vacation....i mean come on.....Boston thinks there people r so open minded there not, there really a lot of uneducated thaughts going around over here...ppl r very ignorant...im sorry to say...
abigail moore August 15, 2012 at 04:20 PM
exzacly....The housing authority isnt doing anything to regulate who there bring in there community....its the poorer u r the more money they receive for there units....if u work or have income, they dont like it...u need to do nothing, no income so they can collect, and walk through our neighborhood looking fabalous when little children are climbing in dumpsters looking for food.....some of u ppl need to stop talking like u know, when u truly have no idea.....i think they should just get rid of this housing authority, its set up to fail....they dont keep up there units, its like living in a third world country, walls falling apart, mold, u call in the city, they make the housing clean the problem, but once again there slick and there own workers will tell u, they dont fix crap, they bandade it so it looks ok, and two weeks later heres the problem again...break these craps down and evaluate who ur letting in, and give a serfichincy period to help familys get on there feet, move them out and help another, give the residents jobs in there development, motivate them....dont just take the money and run.....tax payer need to get together and elimate this project/problem...

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