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News Release
October 14, 2004

Thirteen on the North Shore Indicted on Federal Drug Charges

Boston, MA... Thirteen North Shore men were indicted recently by a federal Grand Jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone, and other drug related charges. The Indictment follows the defendants’ arrests in June of this year.

Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England; United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; and Michael Macleod, Chief of the Gloucester Police Department, announced that the following thirteen defendants were named in a seventeen-count Indictment returned on September 22, 2004.

1. CARLOS ESPINOLA, age 27, of 63 Endicott Street, Peabody;
2. JOSE MELO, age 28, of 20 Tracey Street, Peabody;
3. JOSEPH BALDASSANO, age 23, of 220 Washington Street, Gloucester;
4. MATTHEW CREAM, age 22, of 57 Prospect Street, Gloucester;
5. JASON MATTHEWS, age 24, of 57 Prospect Street, Gloucester;
6. JOSEPH ALLEN, age 26, of 8 Reservoir Road, Gloucester;
7. KEITH BEHSMAN, age 26, of 40 Sarah Avenue, Lowell;
8. JONATHAN MITCHELL, age 24, of 5 Exchange Street, Gloucester;
9. JAMES GARDNER, age 25, of 14 Centennial Avenue, Gloucester;
10. PHILLIP ALBERT, Jr., age 26, of 10 Babson Street, Gloucester;
11. JARED KNOWLTON, age 29, of 11 Tolman Avenue, Gloucester;
12. ARCHIBALD MACLEOD, age 21, of 124 rear Centennial Avenue, Gloucester; and
13. GIUSEPPE TORRENTE, age 23, of 9 Fleetwood Drive, Gloucester.

The indictment stems from arrests made this summer following an investigation, initiated in October 2003, by the DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team (“MET”) in cooperation with the Gloucester Police Department and the Cape Ann Regional Strike Force, focusing on the distribution of various controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine, crack and Oxycodone.

All thirteen defendants have been charged in the Indictment with Conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, found in OxyContin and other prescribed pain medications. Most of the defendants were additionally charged with one or more counts of distribution of Oxycodone. BEHSMAN, MITCHELL, GARDNER and CREAM were charged with distributing Oxycodone in the Riverdale Park Housing Development, a public housing complex owned by the Gloucester Public Housing Authority.

The Indictment alleges that the defendants were part of an OxyContin distribution ring operating in and around Gloucester between October 2003 and June 2004. During that time period it is alleged that a total of 1,096 eighty milligram OxyContin tablets were purchased from the defendants by undercover law enforcement agents. The Indictment alleges that the conspiracy involved the possession and distribution of approximately 35,000 eighty milligram OxyContin tablets with a total street value of over $2 million.

Upon conviction, each of the conspiracy and distribution charges have a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $1 million fine. The distribution of Oxycodone in a public housing development charge has a maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by 6 years of supervised release and a $2 million fine.

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 investigation was 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.

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