A dozen people were arrested today as police in Boston, Swansea and Swampscott raided locations related to two groups that imported massive amounts of fentanyl and other drugs from Mexico for distribution in the Boston area, local and federal law-enforcement officials said today.
Among those arrested: Robert Contreras, 42, of Roxbury, whom Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said was the leader of one of the two groups - and their alleged main contact with Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel. Another alleged kingpin, Edward Soto-Perez, 43, of Roxbury, was already behind bars - he was arrested as part of the investigation.
At a press conference today, Conley said that during the course of the investigation, police seized at least 33 pounds of fentanyl - good for several million doses - 13 pounds of cocaine, and 6,000 pills believed to be opioids and $81,000 in cash from locations across Boston and in Brockton, Lynn, Randolph and Wilmington.
During today's raids, police seized another 77 pounds of drugs today - much of it from "stash houses" in Dorchester and another $300,000 in cash, Conley said, adding investigators are still working to sort out how much of which type of drugs were taken.
We allege that the Contreras Organization worked with members of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world, who imported huge quantities of narcotics into the northeastern United States. In fact, we believe they were so high in the distribution structure that the next level up would take us outside the United States. Evidence suggests that the Contreras Organization would receive those cartel narcotics and distribute them to the Soto-Perez Group and others, who would in turn supply lower-level dealers.
Conley said investigators had had Soto-Perez in their sights for awhile, but had to obtain a rare-in-Massachusetts warrant for a wiretap to learn who was supplying him and his gang with the drugs they were selling, because Soto-Perez was:
Clever and extremely diligent in covering his tracks. He used couriers to make deliveries and take cash payments. He switched cars regularly to foil court-authorized GPS tracking. And he would make as many as five sudden turns in the span of a mile to spot police surveillance teams.
In the months that followed, the court extended the wiretap 11 times and approved interceptions on more than two dozen phones. Investigators doubled as codebreakers to reveal the criminal enterprise as it unfolded. In some calls, the defendants referred to drug shipments as "musicians" and to payments as "tickets" to the party. In others, they discussed purity levels by referring to a kilogram of cocaine as a "car" that could fit "three passengers" – a highly potent original product that could be quadrupled in retail weight with cutting agents.
The wiretaps, he said, ultimately led investigators to Contreras and his group - which would sell to Soto-Perez's group, which in turn would supply street-level dealers in the Boston area.
In addition to Dorchester, police also raided locations in Brighton, Hyde Park, Roxbury, West Roxbury, Swansea and Swampscott. Arrested along with Soto-Perez before today are Nelson Catala-Otero, 37, of Brockton and Julio Cuello, 52, of Dorchester. The three have been held in lieu of bail ranging from $100,000 to $250,000.