On Monday July 9, 2012 a combined effort by Boston police officers and FBI agents dismantled an alleged illegal drug ring, arresting fourteen people spanning twelve locations across Boston, Milton, and Canton. The Boston Globe reports that the enterprise was brought to an end as a result of the largest drug investigation to hit Boston in at least a decade. The investigation, nicknamed Operation Rodeo, lasted thirteen months and involved agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Department of Homeland Security; Internal Revenue Service; and the Boston Police Department. The federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, formed to combat drug activity in and around Boston, purportedly collected thousands of hours of physical surveillance, forensic accounting, translation services, GPS tracking, confidential sources, and a supposed “tremendous” amount of electronic surveillance. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said that eleven people have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine, as a result of those warrants and seizures. With three more people having been charged with related gun and drug offenses and additional complaints to follow, the police believe that cocaine trafficking business has taken a brutal blow.
The law enforcement authorities claim that the alleged trafficking operation was headed by Juan “White Boy” Guzman, formerly of Hyde Park, who is currently serving a jail sentence for gun and drug convictions. Guzman and his associates have allegedly been trafficking shipments of as much as 40 kilograms of cocaine at a time from Mexico to Boston. Authorities handling Operation Rodeo have seized assets including $500,000, four vehicles, nine bank accounts, and a safetydeposit box allegedly used by the drug ring. Some of those involved are said to also be under investigation for crimes of violence, murder, assault, and in particular, a 2010 triple-homicide at a Centre Street pizzeria in Jamaica Plain. Aside from Guzman, Numitor Vallejo, 31; ; Thomas Lugo, Jr., 25; Caesar Aguasvivas, 32; and Jonathan Tejeda, 30. were arrested in relation to the cocaine trafficking, and Manuel Martinez, 24, faces gun and assault charges stemming from his involvement in the organization. Not guilty pleas have been entered for all individuals charged and all are presumed innocent of any crime alleged.
The crime of conspiracy to traffic cocaine is a felony in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. In recent decades, the trafficking of drugs has become a worldwide phenomenon, as drugs remain a major commodity in the global black market. Drug trafficking involves the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of controlled substances and is prosecuted vigorously by State and Federal authorities, as the US attempts to make headway on its ‘War On Drugs’ campaign. Law enforcement officials remain concerned because they believe that the business of drug trafficking is usually surrounded with other violent crimes, including murder, human trafficking, slavery, racketeering, and extortion. Cocaine is the most lucrative of these illegal drugs. The United Nations estimates that sales of the drug net $88 billion a year in the retail market alone. Unfortunately, cocaine trafficking and abuse continue to threaten the health and safety of American citizens.