Category: Archive

South Boston drug bust

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jim Smith

BOSTON — Federal authorities took a big step last month toward eliminating the scourge of heroin which has plagued housing developments in South Boston for years.

Twenty-three people were indicted Feb. 22 in U.S. District Court for heroin distribution after a series of pre-dawn raids around the city. Four of the alleged ring-leaders of the drug operation sold drugs out of their residence at the Old Colony Housing Project in heavly Irish South Boston, while another defendant operated out of his apartment at the Mary Ellen McCormack Development across the street.

The five South Boston defendants are Hector "Boogie" Arias, age 48; Yolanda Herrera, 45; Edwin Colon, 28; Linda Gonzales, 32, and Marcial Ortiz, 33. The ring’s alleged New York supplier, 50-year-old Bernardo Nunez, was arrested in Richmond Hills, N.Y., after authorities seized approximately 400 grams of heroin.

According to court records, many of the 23 Hispanic men and women indicted are illegal aliens, and some have extensive criminal records.

The raids were the result of a two-year multi-agency federal investigation known as "Operation Pegasus." When the surveillance began early in 1999, rumors were circulating throughout the projects that newcomers to the housing developments, primarily black and Latino, were complaining to housing officials that the shamrock symbols adorning many of the doors and walls around the developments made them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

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After Boston Housing Authority officials then designated shamrocks ads "bias indicators," a public outcry ensued within the Irish-American community, with residents calling on BHA officials to spend less time on symbols and more on eradicating the pervasive drug problem in the projects.

In announcing the indictments, U.S. Attorney Donald Stern expressed confidence that the arrests will help to shut down the heroin business in South Boston and surrounding areas.

"Heroin distribution is a very serious problem in the Boston area," he said. "Distribution networks such as this contribute to the far-reaching devastation wrought by the effects of heroin, not only on the lives of the people who use it and their families, but also on the public health and safety of entire communities."

One of those indicted Friday, Marcial Ortiz, lives on O’Callaghan Way in the McCormack Development across from the former residence of Charles "Ebony" Horton, the transexual child molester who was evicted from the development late last year after a public uproar. Horton is now residing under house arrest at an undisclosed location elsewhere in the city.

If convicted, the alleged drug dealers face sentences of 10 years to life in federal prison.

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