News Release
March 20, 2007

Fall River Gang Leader Gets Over 12 Years
for Federal Narcotics Offenses

MAR 20 -- BOSTON, MA - A leader of the MAFIOSO gang in Fall River was sentenced today in federal court to more than 12 years in prison in connection with narcotics charges that stemmed from a joint investigation by federal, state and local authorities aimed at reducing violent crime and drug dealing in the Fall River area.

June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; C. Samuel Sutter, Bristol County District Attorney; and John M. Souza, Fall River Police Chief, announced that MICHAEL PERALTA, 25, of 151 Quequechan Street, Fall River, Massachusetts, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro to 12 years and 7 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. On March 2, 2007, PERALTA pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base, also known as “crack cocaine,” from May 2005 through June 2, 2005, and three substantive counts of distributing 5 or more grams of crack during that time period.

According to documents filed with the Court, PERALTA was described as the leader of the MAFIOSO - a Fall River street gang involved in narcotics trafficking, firearms violations, and violent crimes in the Fall River area. At today’s hearing, the prosecutor described PERALTA as “the number one problem” facing law enforcement officers in the areas of Fall River and Tiverton, Rhode Island prior to his arrest.

PERALTA was arrested along with ten other Fall River area men in April 2006, on various federal and state firearms and narcotics charges as a result of investigative efforts under the auspices of Bush’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program, which makes prosecution of firearms and gang cases a top priority. The Project Safe Neighborhoods program provides a comprehensive, strategic approach to reducing gun violence in America. Since 2002, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office implemented Project Safe Neighborhoods, eleven cities across the state, including Fall River, have joined in the program. Federal, state and local authorities involved in this investigation focused on identifying felons in possession of firearms and ammunition, as well as gang members involved in violent crimes and drug dealing in the Fall River area.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Fall River Police Department, and the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office with assistance from the Tiverton and Bristol, Rhode Island Police Departments.