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Heroine Pipeline Busted In Brockton Raid

Boston Globe via YellowBrix

November 19, 2010

BROCKTON — They referred to heroin as “work’’ in cellphone conversations, and their network extended from Lynn to much of the South Shore. They held clandestine meetings in shopping center parking lots, laundromats, and even near Brockton City Hall. And the cash, tens of thousands of dollars, flowed in.

But federal drug agents were listening and watching. Yesterday, after an almost yearlong investigation, dozens of agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration and state and local police carried out early-morning raids in Brockton and six other communities. They arrested 25 people on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and possession of heroin. Although the investigation began last December, authorities are basing their case on the alleged actions of the defendants over the past six months.

Several suspects were taken into custody at a house on Green Street in Brockton. A man who identified himself as the building’s owner but refused to give his name said yesterday that he had no knowledge of the actions of his third-floor tenants.

“I was a police officer in Cape Verde for 14 years, and I brought my family here for a better life and for my children to get a good education,’’ he said at the home hours after authorities had left. “I can’t tell you what was going on upstairs, because I don’t know.’’

A nearby resident who was visiting the homeowner said the raid was due because the neighborhood has been overrun with drugs.

“It was a good thing to do, because there’s definitely a big problem with drugs around here,’’ said Jack Teixeira, 39, a longtime resident of Brockton. “This street is one of the worst.’’

US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement that authorities are committed to prosecuting offenders.

“Today’s arrests should be a clear signal to those distributing drugs in our neighborhoods that the federal government is aggressively working with state and local law enforcement to track their movements, find their associates, and close down their operations,’’ she said.

The suspects were booked yesterday morning at the Brockton Police Station. The station did not have enough space to hold them inside, so they were confined in a large sheriff’s van in the parking lot and led out one at a time by two federal agents wearing black ski masks.

Occasionally, relatives of the suspects showed up at the police station, frantically attempting to get information. Several women were told at the front desk to go to John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in South Boston, where the suspects would be arraigned later in the day.

The first arraignments came at about 2:10 p.m., when authorities led Ismael Figueroa of Lynn, Carey Monteiro of Dedham, and Catherine Watts of Somerville into a courtroom in US District Court.

The three suspects appeared stunned by their abrupt incarceration.

Monteiro’s attorney asked the judge if her client, a single mother, could make arrangements for relatives to pick up her 8-year-old son from school. And Watts’s attorney asked the judge if her client could have access to essential medication she takes daily.

Authorities relied heavily on court-issued authorization of wiretaps and on surveillance. A 126-page affidavit filed by DEA Special Agent Kevin Hersey contained portions of phone conversations between four “large-scale heroin distributors’’ and their associates. The document said the four were Miguel A. Fernandes, Jose G. Rosa, Iury Jandir Gomes, and Justin A. Teixeira, all of Brockton.

The affidavit contains dozens of examples of alleged drug encounters and statements allegedly made by the defendants during phone conversations that were monitored by authorities.

In one example, from a conversation on July 24, Watts allegedly asked Rosa if he was “looking for two fingers.’’ Rosa replied that he wanted a “direct, steady source,’’ and Watts told him he could get “two fingers every day.’’ She said she had people who came through for “five every day.’’

A finger is a street term for measurement of heroin, usually 10 grams, which sold for $500 to $700 in this alleged ring.

Authorities said Watts delivered heroin to Rosa and another defendant, Dany L. Brandao of Brockton, on Beacon Street in Somerville.

If convicted, the suspects face from 10 years to life in prison and a maximum $4 million fine.

“Urban communities have our challenges, but make no mistake, residents of this city are no less deserving of a peaceful quality of life,’’ said Mayor Linda Balzotti of Brockton, “We are not going to tolerate this kind of activity.’’

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