Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Defendant Beats Drug and Firearm Charges in Massachusetts on Sixth Amendment Grounds

The right to a speedy trial can be helpful for those facing criminal charges in Massachusetts. This was made adamantly clear when the Commonwealth decided to drop all charges against a defendant who successfully argued his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated. This situation illustrates when a Sixth Amendment defense might be useful, how much time needs to pass, and how defendants can implement this strategy when fighting drug and firearms charges in Massachusetts. 

Commonwealth vs. Juan Carlos Felix

In a recent case, the Commonwealth was left with no other choice but to reverse its judgments of conviction due to a successful Sixth Amendment defense. The case revolves around a defendant charged with possession of fentanyl, cocaine, firearms, and ammunition. He also faced a charge of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. Although he was initially found guilty on all of these charges, he filed an appeal and claimed that his right to a speedy trial had been violated. Upon examining the case, the Commonwealth failed to justify the delays and let the man walk free. 

The incident involved an alleged shooting incident in Fitchburg. A witness initially saw a group of individuals in an armed altercation while driving through the area. Police arrived at the scene and found two of the three individuals walking nearby. One of these individuals was the defendant, who fled and tried to hide underneath a porch. However, he was apprehended and discovered with a firearm and various drugs. 

His indictment was issued by a grand jury on March 16th, 2017. About three months later, he attended the pretrial conference. Two weeks passed, and he filed a discovery motion – with a discovery hearing scheduled shortly afterward for September 2017. However, delays forced the Commonwealth to reschedule for October of that year. The defendant then filed a motion to suppress evidence, which was eventually denied in December 2017. By February of 2018, he had filed another motion. Eventually, a final pretrial conference was scheduled for April – but once again, the Commonwealth was forced to push the date back until June. 

It was not until a full year had passed that the actual trial was scheduled. Even then, the date was pushed back even further based on requests from both parties. These delays continued for years, and in October 2019, the defendant argued that his right to a speedy trial had been violated. The court ignored this request and proceeded with a trial, which occurred on January 6th, 2020. 

The Commonwealth later acknowledged that it needed to justify trials that take more than one year to occur. Since this trial took not one but numerous years to actually occur, they had no choice but to conclude that the defendant's right to a speedy trial had been violated. 

Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Massachusetts

If you have been searching for an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Massachusetts, look no further than Edward R. Molari. The Sixth Amendment is just one potential defense strategy that may prove useful when fighting firearms or drug charges in the Commonwealth. To discuss other legal options, be sure to book a consultation at your earliest convenience. 

Can Police Search My Criminal Record Just By Looking at My License Plate?

Your criminal record in Massachusetts is tied to your license plate number. Assuming the vehicle is registered in your name, there is nothing stopping police officers from running a criminal record check based only on your license plate number. Unlike a traffic stop, they do not need probable cause to do this. Since criminal records are public, virtually anyone could do the same. A recent case in Massachusetts shows that police may initiate traffic stops having already decided whether they want to search vehicles. 

Boston Police Fail to Mention Use of Criminal Record Check Before Search

In May of 2024, the official website of the Boston Police announced that they had successfully recovered a large-capacity firearm during a traffic stop in Roxbury. They claimed to have initiated the stop because the defendant "failed to stop at a stop sign" on two separate occasions. They proceeded to pull the defendant over. For whatever reason, the Boston Police found it necessary to mention that the defendant did not stop "immediately" – implying some kind of pursuit took place. However, the same report notes that the defendant complied and pulled over on Washington Street.

The police then claim to have noticed the man "visibly shaking" while handing over his license and registration. It's not clear whether this can be corroborated by bodycam footage – or any evidence other than the officers' testimony. 

The report then goes on to say that the officers made "multiple attempts" to extricate the driver from their vehicle. Again, it's not clear how exactly this happened. Did the officers merely request that the driver exit this vehicle, or did they physically remove him against his will? They then searched the man's body but ostensibly found nothing. Unsatisfied, they proceeded to search the vehicle and recovered a firearm. 

Police say that the Glock 23 handgun is stolen and that it features a 21-round magazine. They also mention that it has been fitted with a laser sight, although this is completely legal in Boston. As a result of this traffic stop, the defendant was charged with numerous firearms offenses and receiving stolen property. 

Did the Police Decide to Search His Vehicle Ahead of Time?

As most people know, police officers in the United States need a valid reason to search a vehicle due to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Based on this report, it seems that the Boston Police are trying very hard to justify pulling this man over under extremely flimsy circumstances. Most drivers would need to cause an accident to be pulled over for "not coming to a complete stop" at a stop sign.

The Boston Police also seem to imply that the defendant failed to stop "immediately," although he did pull over and comply fully. How long did the defendant wait before pulling over? Was he simply searching for a safe spot to stop? The police do not give any specifics in this regard, and they seem content to vaguely imply that this individual attempted to flee. 

Finally, we have the dubious claim that the man was "shaking" while handing over his license. This observation is the kind of thing that is impossible to confirm or deny. Even if he was shaking, one might argue that interacting with police is an inherently scary experience – even if you've done nothing wrong. 

In the end, it is safe to say that the police had already decided that they wanted to pull this man over and search his vehicle. They inevitably ran his plates before initiating the traffic stop, learned of his criminal record, and made a decision to violate his Fourth Amendment rights. While the Constitution is supposed to protect us from unreasonable searches, the reality is clear: Police can theoretically pull us over and search our vehicles whenever they feel like it. We should also note that although the recording of the interaction will be suppressed, the officers involved may testify "at trial as to what was said during the three transactions or what he observed during them."

Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Boston

If you have been searching for a Boston criminal defense lawyer, consider Edward R. Molari. We have helped numerous defendants fight unlawful searches, seizures, and traffic stops. We have considerable experience with firearms defense, possession defense, and more. Book a consultation today to discuss an appropriate defense strategy. 

Cold Case Murder Trial in Boston Raises Important Questions About DNA Evidence

DNA evidence is often hailed as an infallible, irrefutable pathway toward streamlined convictions. Defendants may find it challenging to push back against the dogmatic, almost monotheistic "truth" of science in this situation. DNA evidence has proven particularly prevalent in cold cases, allowing the Commonwealth to try those linked with murders in Boston that occurred decades ago. But is DNA evidence really as reliable as we think? A recent case illustrates that police have ways of using your statements against you – even when DNA evidence seems questionable.  

Jury Selection Begins After DNA Evidence Leads to Murder Charges in Boston

In 1988, a deceased woman was discovered in Boston. Her body showed signs of strangulation, and the death was ruled a homicide. Based on biological evidence, police also concluded that her murderer had sexually assaulted her. The DNA evidence was submitted to the FBI, but the case went cold for the next few decades. No DNA matches were found until 2011, but the authorities were reluctant to press charges – believing that they still lacked sufficient evidence to link the suspect to the crime. Recently, prosecutors stated that they came across "additional evidence" that allowed them to proceed. The defendant has pleaded not guilty, and a trial will commence. 

Victim's Sex Worker Status Complicates DNA Evidence

Media reports fail to mention several crucial details. First, the victim was apparently a sex worker – and she was working at the time of her death. This assumedly explains the prosecutors' reluctance to bring charges despite the DNA match. 

Without going into too much detail, the defendant's DNA may have been deposited at the murder scene before the murder actually took place. If the sex worker dealt with numerous customers, it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that the murderer was the same person who left this DNA evidence behind. Prosecutors may have concluded that this evidence would not establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – and many legal observers would undoubtedly agree with this conclusion. 

This shows how DNA evidence is not always as irrefutable as people might think. Putting aside the innovative technology behind this evidence, there are still certain factors that may affect its strength – including the profession of the victim and the circumstances of the crime scene. 

So, what made the prosecutors change their mind? The "additional evidence" mentioned by the media seems to be a single statement made by the defendant while being questioned. During this interview with police, he reportedly denied ever visiting prostitutes. This, according to the prosecutors, was enough to move forward with charges. 

If he never visited prostitutes, then he could not have been one of the prior customers of the murder victim. As such, the previous barrier to prosecution vanished with one simple sentence. This highlights the importance of remaining silent when being questioned by police. Always wait until your defense attorney arrives before communicating with the police. Even if you are attempting to deny your involvement in an alleged crime, police may still use your statements against you. 

Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Boston

Whether you are facing DNA evidence, "firearms forensics," or some other form of scientific evidence, it is all too easy to give up hope. However, this evidence may not be as strong as you think. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Boston can point out flaws in seemingly irrefutable technical data, making these "facts" much less convincing than they initially appear. To discuss this topic in greater detail, book a consultation with Edward R. Molari today.

Can Police Obtain My Hospital Records to Prove OUI in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, you might assume that your medical records are always private. Federal privacy laws prohibit healthcare providers from revealing your records, and doctors also protect your confidentiality from a purely ethical standpoint. But what happens when the authorities attempt to use your medical records to prove that you were Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Massachusetts?  

In 2022, The Supreme Court Protected Medical Privacy for OUI Cases

In 2022, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts ruled that obtaining someone’s hospital records to establish their BAC level was unlawful. In the case of Commonwealth v. Eric J. Moreau, the State police obtained these BAC levels by analyzing a blood draw conducted by hospital staff while a defendant received medical treatment. The defendant never consented to having his blood taken, and the police never even informed him of what was happening. 

Initially, a judge stopped the defendant from suppressing the evidence. After review, however, the SJC found that this was a clear error. They concluded that every defendant must consent to a blood test – whether it is made by police officers or “at the direction” of police officers. The SJC concluded that if authorities fail to obtain consent, any subsequent test results become inadmissible. 

Things might have been different if the suspect had been transported to a police station instead of a hospital. Specifically, the SJC noted that if the officer had placed the defendant under arrest, refusal to consent to a BAC test would have resulted in separate penalties. This type of situation happens quite frequently, as car accidents often cause injuries that require immediate hospitalization. The SJC also noted that the officer could have theoretically placed the suspect under arrest before transport to a hospital. In past cases, officers have placed OUI suspects under arrest while traveling with them in ambulances. 

In 2024, The Supreme Court Reduced Medical Privacy With a New Decision

While Massachusetts gave defendants solid medical privacy for a few years, the SJC returned to the issue two years later and started backpedaling. In Commonwealth v. Bradley Zucchino, the Supreme Court ruled that the Moreau decision only applied to simple OUI. Because the defendant in this case was facing a charge of OUI causing serious bodily injury, authorities were allowed to use blood samples taken from the defendant during their hospital treatment – without consent. Although the defendant sought the same privacy protections under Moreau, the judge denied this motion – a decision that was backed up by the SJC. 

What made this crash different? First, the crash in the Moreau case was a single-vehicle collision where the defendant had crashed into a tree. Aside from the defendant, no one else was injured. In Zucchino, the defendant had crashed into another vehicle – and this collision caused one death. The defendant then faced charges of OUI causing serious bodily injury – preventing them from seeking the same protections laid out by Moreau. The SJC wrote that the defendant’s reading of Moreau was “too broad.” 

Contact Edward R. Molari Today

The conflict between medical privacy and OUI laws can be complex. To discuss your case and potential defense strategies in more detail, contact a Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer today. Book your consultation with Edward R. Molari. 

Can Police Obtain My Hospital Records to Prove OUI in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, you might assume that your medical records are always private. Federal privacy laws prohibit healthcare providers from revealing your records, and doctors also protect your confidentiality from a purely ethical standpoint. But what happens when the authorities attempt to use your medical records to prove that you were Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Massachusetts?  

In 2022, The Supreme Court Protected Medical Privacy for OUI Cases

In 2022, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts ruled that obtaining someone’s hospital records to establish their BAC level was unlawful. In the case of Commonwealth v. Eric J. Moreau, the State police obtained these BAC levels by analyzing a blood draw conducted by hospital staff while a defendant received medical treatment. The defendant never consented to having his blood taken, and the police never even informed him of what was happening. 

Initially, a judge stopped the defendant from suppressing the evidence. After review, however, the SJC found that this was a clear error. They concluded that every defendant must consent to a blood test – whether it is made by police officers or “at the direction” of police officers. The SJC concluded that if authorities fail to obtain consent, any subsequent test results become inadmissible. 

Things might have been different if the suspect had been transported to a police station instead of a hospital. Specifically, the SJC noted that if the officer had placed the defendant under arrest, refusal to consent to a BAC test would have resulted in separate penalties. This type of situation happens quite frequently, as car accidents often cause injuries that require immediate hospitalization. The SJC also noted that the officer could have theoretically placed the suspect under arrest before transport to a hospital. In past cases, officers have placed OUI suspects under arrest while traveling with them in ambulances. 

In 2024, The Supreme Court Reduced Medical Privacy With a New Decision

While Massachusetts gave defendants solid medical privacy for a few years, the SJC returned to the issue two years later and started backpedaling. In Commonwealth v. Bradley Zucchino, the Supreme Court ruled that the Moreau decision only applied to simple OUI. Because the defendant in this case was facing a charge of OUI causing serious bodily injury, authorities were allowed to use blood samples taken from the defendant during their hospital treatment – without consent. Although the defendant sought the same privacy protections under Moreau, the judge denied this motion – a decision that was backed up by the SJC. 

What made this crash different? First, the crash in the Moreau case was a single-vehicle collision where the defendant had crashed into a tree. Aside from the defendant, no one else was injured. In Zucchino, the defendant had crashed into another vehicle – and this collision caused one death. The defendant then faced charges of OUI causing serious bodily injury – preventing them from seeking the same protections laid out by Moreau. The SJC wrote that the defendant’s reading of Moreau was “too broad.” 

Contact Edward R. Molari Today

The conflict between medical privacy and OUI laws can be complex. To discuss your case and potential defense strategies in more detail, contact a Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer today. Book your consultation with Edward R. Molari. 

Undercover Police Recordings Suppressed in Massachusetts Drug Distribution Case

A recent case in Massachusetts focused on Callyo, a new software application gaining popularity among undercover police officers across the nation. While the app certainly has its uses, recordings made with this software may violate the Commonwealth’s wiretapping laws. A recent decision shows that these recordings may be suppressed. But can wiretapping laws really protect you from undercover police officers in Massachusetts? 

Commonwealth v. Du 

In October of 2023, the Commonwealth issued an important decision on the admissibility of secret recordings made by undercover police officers in drug distribution cases. In Commonwealth v. Du, a defendant faced distribution charges after being recorded making drug transactions on three different occasions. Each time, the defendant sold about $100 worth of narcotics to an undercover officer. Each time, the officer made secret recordings of the transaction without a warrant. The Callyo app transmitted the recordings live to other officers who were listening in, and it also uploaded and stored the recordings to the cloud. 

After facing distribution charges, the defendant argued that the recordings violated the Commonwealth’s wiretap statute. The Commonwealth then attempted to argue that the defendant had no expectation of privacy since the drug transactions were carried out in public spaces. In addition, the Commonwealth claimed that there was “reasonable suspicion” that the defendant had engaged in a drug distribution network – providing a clear exception to the wiretap law. 

These arguments failed upon review. The fact that the transactions occurred in public was irrelevant since the Commonwealth’s wiretap statute bans all “secret” recordings – regardless of where they take place. In addition, there was never any evidence that the defendant had carried out drug transactions as part of an organized crime organization. Officers only collected evidence of the “controlled buys,” and they never presented anything to suggest the defendant was part of a “narcotics distribution network.” The Commonwealth specifically noted that each of the three transactions involved small amounts of narcotics. In other words, the “organized crime” exception to the wiretap ban did not apply. 

As a result, the recordings were suppressed. The Commonwealth even discussed whether the officers should face criminal penalties for violating the wiretap statute. In Massachusetts, you can face up to five years in prison for willfully violating these wiretapping laws. A $10,000 fine is also possible. 

What Does This Case Mean?

While some observers may feel encouraged to hear that the Commonwealth is protecting its citizens against illegal surveillance from the authorities, the decision in Commonwealth v. Du does not completely negate the efficacy of undercover operations. In its decision, the Commonwealth specifically stated that the undercover officer who made the recordings could still testify on what they had witnessed during the transactions. This testimony could be as effective as a video/audio recording, and it might detail exactly what the defendant said and did during the transactions. 

In addition, the result might have been different if the defendant had been charged with drug trafficking, as the Commonwealth’s wiretapping laws would not have applied. 

Work With a Qualified Massachusetts Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with drug trafficking or drug distribution due to undercover police recordings, it is important to work with a Massachusetts defense lawyer. Book a consultation with Edward R. Molari today to get started. 

Massachusetts State Police Crack Down on “Multi-State” Drug Organization

In April of 2024, the official news blog of the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) announced the arrest of three suspected drug traffickers. Law enforcement also obtained a fourth arrest warrant for another suspect outside of the United States. This was the culmination of an investigation that began in the Fall of 2023, and police have been trying to bring down this alleged drug trafficking network for months.  

Numerous Law Enforcement Agencies Participate in Drug Bust

Images from the arrest show various seized items. These include bricks of fentanyl, bags of cocaine, wads of cash, presses, extended magazines, and ammunition. Law enforcement also laid out various department and agency crests to illustrate their participation in the operation. These organizations include the Rhode Island State Police, the Nashua Police in New Hampshire, and various departments throughout Massachusetts. The most prominent crest was that of the “State Police C.I.N.R.E.T,” which took center stage amidst the image of seized items. 

“C.I.N.R.E.T” stands for “Commonwealth Interstate Narcotics Reduction Enforcement Team,” and this organization’s mission is to take down various drug trafficking organizations. Law enforcement agencies describe its role as “unique,” stressing its “long-term, complex investigations.” Since its establishment, it has participated in numerous drug busts and arrests. In March of 2023, eight people were arrested in another C.I.N.R.E.T-sponsored takedown. 

In April’s three-person arrest, the organization participated with the State Police Detective Unit, the State Police Gang Unit, and Homeland Security. 

Police Seize Drugs Through “Undercover Drug Buys”

Although the image of seized drugs is certainly striking from a visual standpoint, police did not seize all of the drugs at one particular time. Instead, the image represents a collection of drugs seized over numerous months. An undercover Massachusetts State Trooper facilitated 10 “controlled buys” over the course of the investigation. Authorities then collected all of the drugs from these controlled buys, placed them on a table, and photographed them together. 

The MSP blog states that these controlled buys ranged from just 11 grams to 2,000 grams. In all likelihood, the undercover agent started with small purchases, eventually gaining the suspects’ trust and purchasing higher quantities as time went on. Police seized a much greater amount of fentanyl compared to cocaine – securing over 7,000 grams vs 900 grams of cocaine. This “high-potency, un-cut” fentanyl seems to have been the main focus. 

In one purchase alone, the undercover trooper paid $27,000 for two kilos of fentanyl. At the conclusion of this purchase, law enforcement moved in and arrested one of the three suspects. 

In addition, police say they seized 43 grams of meth in the operation. Four firearms and “several” high capacity magazines” were also reported by Massachusetts State Police – plus 100 rounds of ammunition. For whatever reason, law enforcement also seized two vehicles. 

Who Defends Alleged Drug Traffickers in Massachusetts?

The MSP blog describes this drug bust as a clear victory, but the suspects are innocent until proven guilty. Only the criminal justice process will determine whether these individuals will actually be convicted. Like all other defendants, the three arrested suspects will have access to criminal defense attorneys in Massachusetts. Edward R. Molari has been defending drug trafficking suspects for years, and defendants may consult with him for further guidance. 

19 Arrested on Drug Charges in Brockton, Massachusetts

Back in September of 2023, almost 20 suspects were arrested on drug charges in Brockton. Although this was a considerable detention of what police referred to as "street-level" dealers, it represented only one step in the Brockton Opiate Suppression Initiative. This program has been characterized by mass arrests, with at least two "sweeps" in the past few years taking in dozens of alleged dealers. How can police officers be so sure that each one of these suspects is a drug dealer? Are they casting their net too wide – potentially charging innocent people? How can authorities avoid so-called "guilt by association?" 

Brockton Drug Sweep Results in Mass Arrests

In September of 2023, authorities from 11 different law enforcement agencies suddenly descended upon Brockton, eventually taking 19 people into custody. Although this might seem like a high number, Brockton and State police actually obtained arrest warrants for a total of 31 people before executing the bust. In other words, 11 people escaped. As part of this drug sweep, authorities took possession of various "ghost guns," ammunition, drugs, and paraphernalia. Police specifically mentioned seizing fentanyl and crack cocaine. 

Many Brockton residents were not overly surprised by the sweep, as authorities have been targeting this low-income area for decades. Almost every year, law enforcement agencies pick one specific date to carry out mass arrests in Brockton. These arrests have continued on a regular basis since 2007 – often occurring sometime during summer. The sweeps usually take more than 20 people into custody. As we approach the summer of 2024, it seems likely that authorities will carry out another sweep at approximately the same time. 

What is the Brockton Opiate Suppression Initiative?

Although mass arrests have been occurring since 2007 in Brockton, the "Brockton Opiate Suppression Initiative" is a relatively new development. It was first announced during a press conference in 2022, and an official web page on the Plymouth County District Attorney's site from this date describes the initiative in vague terms. The page simply states:

"Drug dealers are plaguing some Brockton neighborhoods. Law-abiding citizens living here deserve better. Thanks to all involved, Brockton is a safer place as a result of these efforts." 

Another web page states:

"The goal of this operation was to address issues related to opiate distribution and other drug dealing activities, violence, quality of life issues, and related crimes in the community."

It is not exactly clear how this initiative differs from past mass arrests in Brockton throughout the years – other than giving drug sweeps a special name. 

Find a Drug Crime Defense Attorney in Brockton

If you are facing drug charges in Brockton, Massachusetts, you can defend yourself confidently alongside a qualified drug crime defense lawyer. Perhaps you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you were caught in a "drug sweep" as part of the Brockton Opiate Suppression Initiative. Perhaps you are facing charges because you associate with a dealer – and not because you personally engaged in any drug offenses yourself. Whatever the case may be, there is hope for justice and freedom. Choose Edward R. Molari, book a consultation, and get started with an effective defense strategy today. 

Supreme Court Enforces Double Jeopardy Protection

Sentencing under Massachusetts Murder Laws

In Massachusetts, the sentence for murder in the first degree is life without possibility of parole. Murder in the first degree occurs when someone commits a premeditated, intentional killing. The sentence for murder in the second degree, on the other hand, is life with the possibility of parole. If you are convicted of murder in the second degree, you generally become eligible for parole within 15 to 25 years. 

What is Double Jeopardy

Double jeopardy falls under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states that defendants cannot be charged for exactly the same offense twice in the same jurisdiction. It is possible to charge someone for two different offenses with the same evidence, however – and it is also possible to try defendants separately under virtually identical State and federal laws. 

Supreme Court Issues Important Decision on Double Jeopardy Incident

Despite protections from double jeopardy, sometimes defendants face the prospect of new trials for the same offenses. The Supreme Court was forced to step in in one recent case involving a mentally ill defendant who successfully pursued a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity. However, he was still convicted of lesser offenses in connection with the same crime. The State courts in this case found that these two rulings were incompatible or “repugnant.” In other words, he should have been acquitted of both sets of crimes if he was truly insane. 

This subsequently led to the theoretically impossible scenario of double jeopardy. It was at this point that the Supreme Court stepped in and established that the inconsistency between verdicts was not an issue. This man could not be tried again under any circumstances, and the decision was reversed and remanded. Specifically, Justice Jackson stated that “The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits second-guessing the reason for a jury’s acquittal. She went on to state that the jury had “unreviewable power to return a verdict of not guilty even for impermissible reasons.”

41 Alleged Boston Gang Members Charged in Serious Federal Crackdown

In February of 2024, a total of 41 alleged gang members in Boston were charged with a wide range of offenses, including racketeering, drug trafficking, firearms violations, and fraud. If these are indeed Heath Street Gang members, this crackdown has taken almost 33% of its workforce off the streets. This is apparently the culmination of a two-year investigation into the gang carried out by various law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, the IRS, the Massachusetts State Police, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Secret Service, the US Postale Inspection Service, the DEA, and the OCDETF.  

What is the Heath Street Gang?

According to the Department of Justice, the Heath Street Gang is a decades-old criminal enterprise originally formed in the 1980s. It has its roots in various housing projects in the Jamaica Plain area, and law enforcement considers it to be one of the most dangerous gangs in Boston. It has notable rivalries with the Mission Hill Gang and the H-Block Gang, and the DOJ accuses it of carrying out various shootings to “preserve and protect” its “power, territory, and reputation.” Some of these shootings reportedly killed children in the crossfire, attracting serious attention from law enforcement.  

A Surprising Number of White-Collar Crimes

Although the gang attracted attention from law enforcement due to its alleged brazen shootings, it is also accused of carrying out numerous additional offenses – including white-collar crimes. The DOJ states that some of the 41 defendants have been charged with non-violent crimes, such as COVID-19 fraud. One defendant was accused of carrying out unemployment fraud in 10 different states – plus the territory of Guam. He was not the only associate to face such charges, and the DOJ accuses various members of “widespread CARES Act loan and unemployment fraud.” 

Organized Smash-and-Grabs

In addition, the DOJ points to what it calls “organized retail theft.” In other words, the gang allegedly facilitated large-scale shoplifting of major retailers in Boston. Combined with the various unemployment fraud activities, these activities apparently allowed the gang to generate about $900,000. The DOJ accuses them of using these funds to purchase over 100 firearms.  

Violence Involving Juveniles

While the aforementioned white-collar crimes are certainly worth mentioning, they are probably byproducts of in-depth investigations triggered by alleged violence involving minors. Both victims and perpetrators in many of these incidents were juveniles, and the Heath Street Gang is accused of recruiting minors in Jamaica Plain while encouraging them to carry out various acts of violence. In addition, many of the victims were juveniles – including those caught in the crossfire. 

Music Videos May Be Used as Evidence

Music videos may find their way into some of these criminal trials, as various gang members openly bragged about their crimes and posted these admissions on YouTube. In addition, juveniles were reportedly rewarded with cameos in some of these music videos, apparently providing law enforcement with a clear picture of who carried out various acts. 

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