DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team Focuses on North Shore Drug Dealers
JUN 30 - Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration; United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Michael M. McLeod, Chief of the Gloucester Police Department; and Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, announced today federal and state drug charges against 17 individuals from Gloucester and other North Shore cities.
Today’s charges are the latest in a series of cases investigated by the DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team (“ MET”) working in cooperation with the Gloucester Police Department since October 2003 with a focus on the distribution of various controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine, crack and Oxycodone, in Gloucester and surrounding areas. As a result of today’s charges, a total of 36 individuals have been charged either in federal or state court (23 federal and 13 state) since the DEA’s MET joined forces with the Gloucester Police Department and the Cape Ann Regional Strike Force.
“ The U. S. Attorney’s Office stands ready to respond to any request by local, county or state law enforcement for assistance in fighting drug, gun and other crime,” stated U. S. Attorney Sullivan. “Bringing federal resources to bear on community crime problems, particularly in the areas of drugs and guns, is a high priority of this office.”
“ Today drug traffickers in Gloucester have been put on notice. Stay out of this community. If you choose to peddle your destruction here, you will be aggressively pursued and prosecuted - you are not welcome,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Trouville. “The DEA Mobile Enforcement Team has been deployed in Gloucester for eight months, and working together with the Gloucester Police Department and the Cape Ann Regional Strike Force we have achieved significant results. I would like to thank the Gloucester, Manchester- By- The- Sea, Beverly and Rockport Police Departments and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.”
“ The DEA, Cape Ann law enforcement and Essex County Sheriff’s Department have drug dealers in their sites,” stated Gloucester Police Chief McLeod. “This special joint operation focused on putting drug dealers in a place where they cannot sell on our streets or in our neighborhoods. We are grateful for all the agencies that assisted and their cooperation.” “We will continue to vigorously prosecute those crimes that severely impact the quality of life in our communities,” said District Attorney Blodgett. “These drugs, in particular a potent strain of heroin, are destroying and taking lives, and we will deal harshly with those who spread this poison in our neighborhoods.”
A complaint filed in federal court in Boston alleges that from October 2003 to June 2004, thirteen of the defendants conspired to distribute oxycodone at various locations in Gloucester and at times in the North Shore Mall in Peabody and once in Danvers. It is alleged that the defendants sold OxyContin, a brand name for Oxycodone, to undercover Essex County Deputy Sheriffs and DEA Special Agents for prices ranging from $50 to $80 a pill and in bulk quantities ranging from10 to 500 pills at a time.
It is alleged that CARLOS ESPINOLA, a member of the Red Devil’s Motorcycle Club, was a major supplier in the Gloucester area supplying bulk quantities of OxyContin to other midlevel suppliers such as JOSEPH BALDOSSANO who in turn supplied pills to lower level dealers in the area. Also according to the complaint affidavit, among the federal defendants charged is JARED KNOWLTON, a substitute teacher at Manchester- Essex Regional High School in Manchester- By- The- Sea, who also works as an assistant baseball coach at Gloucester High School.
Eleven of the thirteen federal defendants were arrested last night and will appear this afternoon in federal District Court in Boston before a U. S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Swartwood, III. The following individuals are charged federally:
1. CARLOS ESPINOLA, age 27, of 63 Endicott St., Peabody, MA; 2. JOSE MELO, age 28, of 20 Tracey St., Peabody, MA; 3. JOSEPH BALDASSANO, age 23, of 220 Washington St., Gloucester, MA; 4. MATTHEW CREAM, age 22, of 16 Harrison Avenue, Gloucester, MA; 5. JASON MATTHEWS, age 24, of 57 Prospect St., Gloucester, MA; 6. JOSEPH ALLEN, age 26, of 8 Reservoir Road, Gloucester, MA; 7. KEITH BEHSMAN, age 26, 40 Sarah Avenue, Lowell, MA; 8. JONATHAN MITCHELL, age 24, of 5 Exchange St., Gloucester, MA; 9. JAMES GARDNER, age 25, of 14 Centennial Ave., Gloucester, MA; 10. PHILIP ALBERT, JR., age 26, of 10 Babson St., Gloucester, MA; 11. JARED KNOWLTON, age 29, of 11 Tolman Ave., Gloucester, MA; 12. ARCHIBALD MACLEOD, age 21, of 124 Rear Centennial Ave., Gloucester, MA; and 13. GIUSEPPE TORRENTE, age 23, of 9 Fleetwood Drive, Gloucester, MA.
Upon conviction, both the federal conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycontin charge and distribution of oxycontin charge carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years up to life of supervised release, and a $1 million fine.
The arrests of 4 other individuals on State drug charges are also being sought. The Mobile Enforcement Team program was created by the DEA in early 1995 to assist local law enforcement in responding to the overwhelming problem of drug- related crime that plagues neighborhoods and communities throughout the United States. The challenges facing law enforcement today are daunting. The increasing sophistication of drug- trafficking organizations make drug law enforcement more difficult than ever before. The MET program helps local law enforcement entities attack drug organizations in their neighborhoods and restores a safer environment for the residents of these communities. MET Agents assist local law enforcement officers in the following ways: Identifying major drug traffickers and organizations. Collecting, analyzing, and sharing intelligence with state and local counterparts. Cultivating investigations against drug offenders and gangs. Arresting drug traffickers. Seizing the assets of drug offenders and gangs. Providing support to federal, state, and local prosecutors.
Local police chiefs, county sheriffs, and state and local prosecutors who feel that there is a need for MET assistance in their jurisdiction can submit a written request to the DEA Special Agent in Charge responsible for their particular area. Upon acceptance of a request, the MET in that jurisdiction sends a pre- deployment assessment team consisting of two to three agents to meet with the requesting official and other cooperating local law enforcement agencies in order to evaluate the problem. Upon approval, the entire MET is deployed to that city to begin investigative activity against the primary drug trafficking individuals and organizations identified in the pre- deployment assessment.
The investigations were conducted by the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Mobile Enforcement Team and the Gloucester Police Department with assistance from the Cape Ann Regional Strike Force comprised of members from the Gloucester, Manchester- By- The- Sea, Beverly and Rockport Police Departments and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Michael Pelgro, Deputy Chief of Sullivan’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit. The state cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Alex Cain in Essex County District Attorney Blodgett’s Office.