EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 27, 2012

Andover Street residents pull out lawn chairs to watch raids

LAWRENCE - Agents from the FBI, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Agency, along with local and state police, conducted separate raids on properties on Andover Street Wednesday, bringing neighbors out on their lawn chairs to watch the spectacle.

At about 5:30 p.m., a white box truck drove up to 443-447 Andover St. The back door opened, and officers wearing camouflage and carrying AK-47 assault rifles jumped out and ran into the building, according to several neighbors who watched the action from their front porch.

After an hour or so, the armed agents, who had stormed one of the third-floor apartments in the 12-unit building, were replaced by an FBI evidence team, according to several of the neighbors.

“I grabbed my chair and a soda and watched the whole thing,” said Gayle King, 49, of 428 Andover St., located across the street from the yellow apartment building that was raided. “I got to know some of the neighbors.”

She, her husband Ed, 45, and their son Steven, 19, said it didn’t appear that anyone was arrested, but about eight boxes were taken from the building. FBI spokeswoman Katherine Gulotta said the operation was a joint effort of the FBI, Lawrence Police and state police. Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said local police were there in case anything happened, but that no arrests were made.

The owner of the building, Ben Sirota, said he was at the scene at around 8 p.m. He said the tenants whose apartment was raided had been living there four or five months and were good tenants, paying on time and causing no trouble.

“The FBI didn’t tell me anything, but they didn’t make any arrests,” Sirota said. “The tenant claims not to know anything. We do background checks on all our tenants, but you never know,” Sirota said, adding that the tenants in question are moving out this weekend. Meanwhile, down the street at 586 Andover St., the DEA, working with local and state narcotics officers, executed a search warrant on the first floor where they arrested Keegan Chasse, 24, on a charge of possession of an electrical weapon, a Taser. found in a dresser in the bedroom. Items were also seized and taken into custody by DEA agent Clem Fisher, according to a Lawrence Police Department report filed by Patrolman David Moynihan Jr.

The DEA raid took place around 8 a.m. DEA spokesman Anthony Pettigrew could not be reached for comment.

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