BOSTON — Thirteen Gangster Disciples members along with their associates were arrested Wednesday and charged in connection with a Lawrence-based drug trafficking conspiracy involving fentanyl, cocaine, suboxone and counterfeit prescription pills containing methamphetamine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell said the following people were indicted on conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and 500 grams or more of cocaine and suboxone: Elijah Declet, 24, and Anthony Martinez, 23, both of Haverhill; Justin Suriel, 25, Nathaniel Infante, 27, and Felix Rodriguez, 24, all of Methuen; Jonathan Cruz, 35, and Celino Guzman Cabreja, 31, both of Lawrence; Steven Rios, 24, of North Andover; Cirio Junior Dolores-Acevedo, 38, of Miami, Florida; Christopher Riley, 38, of Brockton, and Emmanuel Lys, 32, of Watertown.
Suriel and Rios were also charged with one count each of kidnapping conspiracy. Declet was also charged with distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Two additional people were charged by criminal complaint for their involvement in the Gangster Disciples’ trafficking operations: Yoel Mercedes, 38, of Lawrence, was charged with distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl and Vando Gvozdarevic, 29, of Chelmsford, was charged with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Suriel and Rios also conspired to kidnap, hold captive and traumatize a victim in retaliation for the suspected theft of Rios’ dog.
Mendell said that according to court documents, the investigation, which began in August 2020, intercepted communications on numerous cellphones between leaders, members and drug suppliers of the Gangster Disciples street gang operating in the greater Lawrence area.
He said the investigation revealed a large multi-object drug conspiracy centering around the Gangster Disciples in Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen. According to the charges, those arrested actively distributed fentanyl, cocaine and suboxone with drug trafficking activities extending from Massachusetts into Maine and southern New Hampshire as well as into the Essex County Jail.
On Wednesday, investigators seized four gallon-sized bags of counterfeit Adderall pills containing methamphetamine, weighing approximately 9.67 pounds. An additional gallon-sized bag of counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl was also seized.
“These defendants allegedly trafficked drugs of all kinds, making money at the expense of addicts and dragging down our community,” Mendell said, noting the arrests stopped a poly-drug (multiple drugs) pipeline that supplied street-level dealing across New England.
“Local, state and federal law enforcement worked together to make this happen, and we are not stopping,” Mendell added. “To the drug traffickers, we say: you will be prosecuted and you will be brought to justice.”
“Today’s arrests targeted many of the key leaders, members, and associates of the Gangster Disciples in the Merrimack Valley who we believe have flooded our neighborhoods with their destructive poison and fueled the violence on city streets under the guise of defending their so-called turf,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Our North Shore Gang Task Force has seized their profits and shut down their distribution networks, and we will not hesitate to use every tool we have to stop others like them from threatening the safety our communities.”
Haverhill Police Chief Robert Pistone said the arrests were the result of tireless work by many dedicated men and women in law enforcement.
“The Haverhill Police Department is committed to keeping our citizens safe and disrupting violent organized gangs in our community through our valued law enforcement partnerships at the local, state and federal levels, especially the FBI Gang Task Force in this case,” he said.
Methuen Police Chief Scott McNamara said he hopes Wednesday’s arrests “bring some relief to Methuen residents, particularly those in the Arlington neighborhood, who have had to endure the consequences of the narcotics trade in the neighborhood for far too long.”