Recently in Drug Trafficking Category

August 18, 2014

Violation of Right to Public Trial Earns Defendant New Trial

In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a superior court judge's decision that the closure of the courtroom for the general questioning of the venire violated a criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

In Commonwealth v. Timothy White, the defendant, a former state police sergeant, had allegedly stole drugs from the state police evidence room and sold them for profit. The defendant was charged with trafficking in cocaine, larceny over $250, and conspiracy to traffick in cocaine. Due to the media attention the case attracted, the defendant's counsel requested individual voir dire of prospective jurors. Unbeknownst to the defendant or the judge, the courtroom was closed to the public for the first phase of the juror selection process, based upon the courtroom lacking sufficient space to seat all members of the venire.

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November 1, 2012

Former Drug Lab Employee Malfeasance Could Give 200,000 Convicted Drug Felons a new shot at Freedom - Boston Criminal Defense Attorneys Parker Scheer

For nine years, Annie Dookhan worked at Hinton State Laboratory in Boston, testing drug evidence for criminal cases. During those nine years, the laboratory conducted almost 200 thousand drug tests. Sixty thousand were personally conducted by Dookhan for 34 thousand cases. Now the results of these drug tests, which led to the conviction of some of Boston's most dangerous criminals, are in question. Dookhan admitted she sometimes recorded drug evidence as positive when it was negative. Basically if some samples tested positive, Dookhan would list the whole batch as positive.

Dookhan now faces two counts of obstruction of justice. She also faces one count of falsifying her academic records after her resume to Hinton claimed she earned a Masters degree from the University of Massachusetts.

Over 100 drug defendants from Dookhan's criminal cases have been freed, had their bail reduced, or had their sentences suspended. A drug lab prosecutor, friends with Dookhan, has resigned. A special "drug court" has been set up to oversee "Dookhan defendants." The state's judiciary has asked the governor for almost $9 million to handle legal challenges, while Boston's mayor has asked for $15 million to handle the "crisis". Massachusetts's district attorneys are expected to request at least another $10 million.

"While Dookhan's actions may have led to the conviction of some dangerous and guilty criminals, it may also have resulted in the false incarceration of innocent people. This is unacceptable and will be remedied," stated Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Frank O'Brien, of Parker | Scheer.

"If you or a family member has been charged with criminal activity, and you believe that the Hinton State Laboratory in Jamaica Plain may have been involved in testing in connection with the case, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers."

November 9, 2011

Occupy Boston Protesters Inform Police of Possible Drug Dealing

According to the Boston Police department, two people camped at Occupy Boston at Dewey Square were arrested for allegedly selling heroin to an undercover cop in the bathroom of South Station, across the street from the ongoing protests. This was one of the first arrests made for drug trafficking at the Occupy Boston encampment.

The man and woman were arrested and subsequently released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to the charges of drug possession and distribution. A judge Monday ordered them to stay away from the Occupy Boston Center.

Boston Police prosecutors began a sting operation within the Occupation after a protester informed them of suspicious activity within the "tent city."

The full article can be seen here.

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October 5, 2011

Boston Police Arrest 14 from Dorchester Drug Scene

On September 30th, Boston Narcotic police arrested14 of so-called "impact players" from the violent Dorchester drug scene. The arrests, part of "Operation Independence," included known gang members and associates with violent criminal histories from parts of Dorchester including Bowdoin Street, Geneva Avenue, and Olney Street.

"This action is a message to any individuals engaging in violent activity in our communities," said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, "we will be relentless in our efforts to hold violent perpetrators accountable."

Officers from the Drug Control Unit and Youth Violence Strike Force zeroed in on 18 violent gang members involved in street-level drug dealing who had either been indicted in court, or had complaints sought against them. Boston Mayor Tom Menino said in a press release, "the BPD will not allow the senseless acts of a few individuals to create fear in the lives of Boston residents and families."

The full article can be seen here.

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June 8, 2011

Mattapan Man Arrested on Weapons Charges

The Boston Police arrested a 22 year old Mattapan Man on a variety of gun and drug charges after executing an arrest warrant on outstanding charges of assault to murder and threats to commit a crime. The Mattapan man, Sirrocko Landrum, had only been released from federal prison 3 months ago on a drug trafficking conviction.

While executing the warrant the Boston Police Fugitive Apprehension Unit and U.S. Marshalls uncovered a mini weapons armory in the Mattapan apartment at 115 Deering Road. The officers reported finding six loaded firearms, three rifles, two semi automatic handguns and a revolver. In addition to the weapons the officers found more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

In addition to the weapons, officers found crack cocaine and a bulletproof vest. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis reported that "the city today is a safer place with this individual behind bars and that there is no doubt that this significant arrest prevented future violence."

The full article can be seen here.

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June 1, 2011

Drug Trafficking and Extortion: Former Watertown Police Officer Charged

Federal authorities charged 18 people, including a Watertown police officer, in connection with a widespread drug extortion and money laundering scheme. The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that they executed searches in Watertown and Waltham that resulted in the seizure of more than $3.3 million, seven kilograms of gold bars worth $364,000, 80 pounds of marijuana, four weapons, and seven vehicles.

The international conspiracy apparently involved numerous people, and spread over many states including New York, Nevada, California, Florida, and also Canada. The Federal Authorities also reported the international drug trafficking operation was aided by a former Watertown police officer who was allegedly in possession of and distributing drugs.

The Watertown police department has stated that the drug trafficking occurred after he was fired from the department for unrelated reasons. The Watertown officer was fired on Nov. 29, 2010 on charges that he improperly served a restraining order and then lied about it.

The full article can be seen here.

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April 3, 2011

Busted: Largest Drug Ring in Cape Cod Area

Twenty-seven members of the largest drug ring in the Cape Cod area were arrested in connection to a drug trafficking scheme. The ring is thought to have over thirty total participants. Authorities seized heroin, cocaine, boats, and a limousine.

Authorities through a series of tips were able to narrow down suspects a confidential tip. Finally, after a two-year investigation of Kyle Hicks, Adalberto Graciani, Kelvin Frye, and Russell Rose, federal agents were able to apprehend the four leaders of the operation. Arrests were made when agents intercepted packages containing drugs sent and exchanged between the men. Often the drugs were cleverly disguised: one man attempted to transport heroin by inserting the drug into a cupcake; while another put the drug into a toy box. The agents were first tipped off by E Customs, a jet ski and motorcycle repair shop. The front shop entertained a lot of customers, but few owned motorcycles or jet skis.

Of the twenty-seven people arrested twelve will face a maximum of forty years on federal charges, the other fifteen, charged with conspiracy to violate the controlled substance act face sentences up to ten years. Arraignments were made the 1st of April, but there was no mention of trial dates.

The full article is featured here.

Attorney Tofani, of counsel to Parker|Scheer, LLP and an associate of the firm's criminal practice group, reflects:

Both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article Fourteen of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights guarantee the right to be free from government action that amounts to unreasonable searches and seizures of persons and property. Subject to very few exceptions, investigating officials are required to present in the form of an affidavit, to a magistrate, sufficient evidence to establish probable cause in support of a search warrant. Thus, searches and seizures conducted in the absence of a warrant in authorization thereof are presumably unreasonable for purposes of constitutional analysis.

Accordingly, defense counsel will likely challenge the evidence presented to the court, supporting the suspected existence of illegal activity. An anonymous tip, standing alone, is insufficient to establish probable cause in support of a search warrant. Ultimately, if defense counsel can establish that the search warrant relied upon was issued in the absence of probable cause, the evidence obtained there from can be suppressed as it is 'fruit of the poisonous tree.'

The warrant applicants will generally present evidence that corroborates any anonymous tips provided by informants, usually acquired though independent police investigation. Additionally, a heightened level of scrutiny is applied when the court determines the probative value of an anonymous tip. More specifically, the court will scrutinize both the tipster's basis of knowledge and their veracity. In other words, the warrant applicant is required to present evidence establishing how the tipster knew what they claim to know; and, why the tipster is credible, and the information provided is reliable. If the record contains insufficient evidence to satisfy these prongs, the court will likely disregard the anonymous tip, and look to alternative evidence bolstering the warrant applicant's suspicion of criminal activity. If there is nothing more, than the warrant is out along with any incriminating evidence obtained there from.

Continue reading "Busted: Largest Drug Ring in Cape Cod Area " »

February 6, 2011

Massachusetts Drug Trafficking Likely Led to Maine Drug Bust

Major drug busts are not limited to any demographic or economic region. Inner-city to rural, drug possession and use is a notable problem for the affected communities. In Dedham Maine, the Boston Glob reported, drug agents stated that they have seized more than 1 and half pounds of cocaine and arrested four people in connection with illegal drug possession and drug smuggling following a four month long investigation.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said that the four arrested were: Michael Vilasuso, 29, of Dedham; Maureen Leeman, 49, of Mount Desert; Thaddeus Jozefowicz, 29, of Bangor; and Stephanie Martin, 45, of Clifton. These four Maine residents have been charged with trafficking in cocaine.

In addition to the drugs, $10,000 in cash was found at Michael Vilasuso's home in Dedham Maine, where he was arrested. The other three members of the illegal drug possession and drug smuggling ring were arrested later after being stopped in their vehicles. The Maine police believe that the cocaine was smuggled into Maine from somewhere in Massachusetts.

October 21, 2010

Reputed New England Mobster Arraigned in Superior Court

Darin Bufalino, a reputed mobster who allegedly worked for former Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on October 21, 2010. He was recently arrested as part of an extensive investigation into organized crime and drug dealing. Bufalino was arrested on charges of extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and being a habitual offender last night. He had been awaiting trial on charges that he robbed a landscaper in Middleton last year. Law enforcement officials told the Boston Globe that Bufalino's arrest was part of a larger case against 31 people including Mark Rossetti, another reputed mobster who has been in jail since his indictment on heroin trafficking charges in May.

The Massachusetts law that makes extortion a crime is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 25. When an extortion case is prosecuted in the Superior Court, extortion is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The maximum sentence for conspiracy is the same as the maximum for the underlying charge, and conspiracy can be very difficult to prove. Heroin trafficking charges are very serious. All Massachusetts drug trafficking convictions carry a mandatory minimum, and heroin trafficking Class A is the most severe.

The Boston Globe: Reputed mobster Darin Bufalino due in Boston courtroom today

Continue reading "Reputed New England Mobster Arraigned in Superior Court" »

September 22, 2010

Paris Hilton Denied Entry to Japan Airport Just a Day After Pleading Guilty to Drug Charges in Las Vegas Case

On Monday, September 20th, Paris Hilton plead guilty to two misdemeanor cocaine possession charges. In exchange for her plea, she received probation and a one-year suspended sentence. The suspended sentence should come as a wake-up call to the hotel heiress after a host or arrests, stint in jail for an OUI conviction, and other drug charges. In fact, during the plea hearing, the judge warned Hilton that if she does not obey her probation conditions, she will likely land behind bars. Hilton admitted to knowingly possessing the cocaine, and for the sentence the judge dropped the felony possession charges down to misdemeanors as part of the plea agreement. As part of her probation, she must pay over $2,000 in fines, serve 200 hours of community service and complete a mandatory outpatient substance abuse program.

The story of Ms. Hilton gets even more newsworthy when yesterday, on Tuesday September 21st, only a day after her plea deal, Hilton was detained at a Japan airport. At Narita Airport, Japanese immigration officials delayed Hilton's entrance to the country. Under Japanese law, immigration authorities are allowed to deny entry to the country to those who have recently been convicted of drug-related offenses. The policy is both a part of Japan's strict anti-drug laws, and to prevent traveler's possessing drugs from entering the country.

This morning, Japanese officials officially denied Hilton entry to the country, and she was forced to board a plane for a different country. She was scheduled to appear at a news conference in Tokyo to promote her fashion and fragrance line, but this conference is now canceled. This would have been the first appearance on her Asian tour to promote her new stores and lines in Asia. However, both Japan and Malaysia have very strict anti-drug laws which may be an issue for the recently probated heiress. (Hilton is also scheduled to appear in Malaysia and open stores carrying her line in the next few days).

Paris Hilton Pleads Guilty to two Misdemeanor Charges in Cocaine Bust, Gets One Year Probation

Paris Hilton Detained at Airport in Japan

September 16, 2010

Drug Sweep in Dorchester

Six men suspected of being part of a network of drug dealers were arrested yesterday in the Franklin Hill and Franklin Field neighborhoods of Dorchester. These individuals were between the ages of 17 and 21 and were from Boston, Stoughton and Norwood. They now face a range of drug charges including: conspiracy to violate drug laws, distribution in a school zone, and probation violations.

Although it is not a crime to simply be with a person known to have drugs (except heroin), conspiracy charges tend to result when police are unsure as to who controlled the drugs when the arrest was made. The consequence is often a conspiracy charge when the arrest is chaotic or when police investigations are lacking.

The Boston Globe: Six arrested in Dorchester drug sweep

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September 15, 2010

Paris Hilton Arrested on Felony Drug Possession Charges in Las Vegas

On August 28, Paris Hilton, the 29-year old Hotel Heiress, was arrested in the swanky Wynn Las Vegas Resort on felony drug possession charges. While driving on down Las Vegas Boulevard, Hilton was pulled over when Las Vegas Metro police believed marijuana smoke was wafting from a black Cadillac Escalade, driven by her boyfriend, Las Vegas nightclub mogul Cy Watts. After being pulled over and being asked to exit the vehicle, Hilton was taken into the hotel "to keep her safe" from the crowds forming outside. According to Metro Police, once inside the hotel, Hilton took a tube of lip balm from her purse. Then a plastic bundle containing a white, powder substance fell from her purse and onto the floor of the Wynn Resort.

This arrest has garnered lots of media coverage, not only due to Hilton's celebrity status, but her inconsistent statements in her defense. Originally, Hilton claimed the purse was not hers, and that she was only borrowing it from a friend. Then, she stated she didn't know cocaine was in there, and that she thought it was gum. So basically, the purse isn't hers, but if it is hers, she didn't know cocaine was inside. Sounds like Hilton is trying to have her coke, "cake," and eat it too.

Hilton and Watts were both arrested and taken into custody. After tests conducted by the Metro police, the substance tested positive as cocaine, but the exact amount of cocaine was not disclosed. After being booked, Hilton was released on her own recognizance. If Hilton is convicted of this drug possession felon, she would likely get probation. However, any violation of her probation could result in one to four years in jail. And with her track record of numerous probation violations, and recent stints in a Los Angeles county jail for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges, the likelihood that Hilton will do hard time for this charge is increased.

These felony drug charges follow a recent history or drug used by the hotel heirness. Just this summer, Hilton was arrested in South Africa after smoking marijuana following the Brazil-Netherlands World Cup match. The case was dropped at a midnight court hearing.

As for Hilton's boyfriend, Watts, he was held pending an upcoming court appearance on a DUI charge. Watts is the managing partner, along with his twin brother, of Tryst Nightclub, the Wynn Las Vegas swanky club.

Paris Hilton Arrested for Cocaine Possession

Paris Hilton Cocaine Defense has "Big Problems"

August 5, 2010

Attorney Francis T. Obrien Featured in Salem Evening News Article

Attorney Francis T. Obrien Jr., Head of the Criminal Practice at Parker Scheer LLP, was recently featured in an in The Salem Evening News.

Lawyer questions search in Beverly drug bust

By Paul Leighton and Julie Manganis Staff writers

BEVERLY -- Beverly police drug detectives found more than $9,000 worth of cocaine and heroin inside a Lexus on Wednesday evening and arrested the driver on trafficking charges.

But after suspect Israel Colon's lawyer raised questions about whether police, without a warrant, had the right to search the Lexus as extensively as they did -- using a trained drug-sniffing dog and ripping open a secret compartment in the SUV -- a Salem District Court judge set bail at just a fraction of the amount requested by prosecutors.

Colon, 24, who police say lives in Lawrence, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment yesterday to charges of cocaine and heroin trafficking and violating the city's knife ordinance.

Prosecutor Michelle DeCourcey sought a $500,000 cash bail. Judge Richard Mori set bail at just $10,000.

DeCourcey described how Beverly Detectives Sgt. Michael Cassola and Thomas Nolan, and Wenham police Detective Sgt. Mark Fraser were conducting surveillance on Cabot Street near the One Stop Market late Wednesday afternoon.

They saw two men known to them as drug users, then watched as they went back to the apartment of one of the men on Elliott Street, a short distance away, DeCourcey said.

Colon showed up a short time later and the detectives recognized him from an investigation a year and a half ago, DeCourcey told the judge.

The three went inside the apartment, and then Colon left, watched by the detectives as he went to the Lexus, which was parked on Chase Street.

Cassola noticed that the windows of the Lexus were illegally tinted and approached Colon, who said the SUV belongs to someone else.

Cassola said he saw a folding knife, opened up, on the back seat within reach of the driver's seat and arrested Colon on a charge of violating the city's knife ordinance, DeCourcey told the judge.

Then, police had the SUV towed because the person that Colon identified as the owner has no license.

DeCourcey said the officers noticed a strong odor of air fresheners -- often used to conceal the odor of drugs -- and spotted what appeared to be wires wrapped with electrical tape dangling from under a panel in the car.

Eventually, with the help of the drug dog Blitz, police found a total of 58 grams of cocaine (about 2 ounces) and 24 grams of heroin, packaged in small bags and hidden inside mouthwash bottles, which were then hidden inside a secret compartment. They also found $1,000 in cash, and another $341 on Colon.

Detectives also found "several newspaper clippings" on recent drug arrests, police said.

The detectives believe the packaging method used is an indication that Colon is part of drug ring they refer to as the "Burgos-Ortiz gang."

Last March, police arrested Juan Burgos, 24, of Lawrence on drug-trafficking charges in Beverly Farms, where he claimed he'd gone for pizza.

Defense lawyer Frank O'Brien argued that the search went well beyond the scope of anything police were legally entitled to do without a warrant -- and called DeCourcey's request for bail "patently absurd."

O'Brien told the judge that "by sheer coincidence" he also represents Burgos, who was released on $15,000 bail following his indictment.

Beyond that, O'Brien said, the search described by DeCourcey was "a patently illegal search."

Police are allowed to conduct searches of vehicles without a warrant under specific circumstances. They can look for evidence related to the offense for which someone is arrested, in this case a knife ordinance violation. They can also conduct what are known as "inventory" searches, intended to document the contents of a vehicle being towed in case of a future loss claim.

"This case is going nowhere," O'Brien argued, "because it was an illegal search."

Lawyer Questions search in Beverly Drug Bust.

July 23, 2010

Arson & Drug Arrest

Paul Walker, 59, of Roxbury was charged with Arson to a Motor Vehicle,
Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws, Possession of Class B, Possession with Intent to
Distribute Class B, Possession with Intent to Distribute Class B within 1,000 feet of a
School Zone, Possession of Class E, and Destruction of Personal Property.

Police responded to a victim's call, who reported that he saw the suspect use a lighter
to set a cloth rag to set his car on fire. The victim was able to provide officers with the
suspect's name and address. Police followed the suspect to his apartment building and
placed Walker under arrest. During a search, officers retrieved a plastic sandwich bag
with what is to be believed to be crack cocaine, and another plastic bag filled with what was believed to be crushed prescription pills.

Walker was arraigned at Roxbury District court Monday, July 19th.

BPDNews, July 18, 2010 - Arson Leads to Drug Arrest

If you need a Boston, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer for a drug offense or an arson offense or a masschusetts dui offense please contact Attorney Francis T. Obrien today at (617) 512-0939.

June 28, 2010

Cambridge Man is Convicted of Cocaine Trafficking

Jeffery Appolon, 24, has been charged with drug trafficking and a drug violation close to a school or park after he was discovered on Monday with 50 grams of cocaine near Kings Open Elementary School. The police learned of Appolon through reports that there would be an individual carrying a substantial amount of cocaine into the area. Later when Appolon did arrive into the scene, he was immediately searched and then arrested.

Boston Globe, June 28th 2010 Cambridge Man is Convicted of Cocaine Trafficking

Please contact the established criminal defense lawyers at Parker Scheer, if you or someone you know needs representation in a drug-related case.