As you have probably heard, there was a rather large federal bust which took place toward the end of last week. When the dust settled, thirty people were facing charges in a crackdown on two street gangs who allegedly terrorized folks in the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester as well as the Uphams Corner section of Roxbury.

The federal prosecutor, who was facing her own bad press at the moment, released the statement, “This community has been in desperate need of reprieve from the violence. We hope the arrests and prosecution of the defendants will quiet the streets and improve the quality of life for all residents.”

As you undoubtedly know, there has been a rash of violence taking place on the Boston-area streets and this massive bust has probably been in the works for a long time. In fact, United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz revealed that over 300 law enforcement officers (ranging from federal to local agencies) executed search warrants and made arrests in what officials have named “Operation Concord”. The operation focused on violence and drug distribution by the Woodward Avenue and Hendry Street gangs, prosecutors said. It dated back to drug traffic in the summer of 2011.

Most of the people arrested were arrested locally. Two were already in custody, one was arrested in California and one in Maine. One last one is still a fugitive.

According to law enforcement, those arrested were allegedly involved in gang, gun, and drug activity. They were allegedly controlled by two young men believed to be leaders of the Hendry Street gang and the Woodward Avenue Gang. These leaders were allegedly responsible for distribution of large amounts of crack cocaine, oxycodone pills, and marijuana.
All of the defendants have been held without bail.

The Reverend Richard “Doc” Conway, a Dorchester Catholic priest whose parish includes some of the streets affected, said he was relieved to hear police had moved to arrest violent gang members from the area.

“Any time you get guns off the streets that’s a plus,” he said. “And when you cut down rivalries between gangs and get the leaders off the street, that’s good for the neighborhood.”
Emmett Folgert, who runs the Dorchester Youth Collaborative in Fields Corner, said busting up two major gangs could have a ripple effect on smaller groups that often take their cues from older gang leaders.

Major arrests of gang leaders impact “not only the areas that these guys were operating out of but areas where their rivals are,” Folgert said. “It turns the temperature down. It’s a multiplier effect.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino called it “a great day for the hardworking people of Bowdoin-Geneva and Uphams Corner.”

So…everyone, other than those arrested, see the mass arrest as a good thing.

But I’ve got to wonder…

Attorney Sam’s Take On Large-Scale Operations To Arrest

Big operations such as this make me a bit nervous. The question that pops up in my head is “who is getting picked up in the cross-fire who really should not really have his or her life ruined?”

Don’t get me wrong. I would hope that long term investigations like this one separate those against whom there is real evidence or wrongdoing and who is simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. However, based on years of experience…I have seen too much to simply assume that such care has been taken.

“Well, Sam, how could people be arrested if there is no direct evidence connecting them to crimes?”

That part is rather easy. It is called different things in different jurisdictions, but in the Commonwealth we call it “Joint Venture”. The theory underlying Joint Venture is raised to an art form when it comes to federal prosecution. It is called the “Conspiracy”.

Under the concept of “conspiracy”, one can be charged with everything anyone else does in the furtherance of the conspiracy…even if one has no idea that said person is even out there.

“Well, surely one has to take some large action in the furtherance of the conspiracy in order to be tied into the conspiracy.”

Well, not so much. Just an act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

“Does that make sense?”

That does not matter. But, by the way, if you have problems with that concept, have I told you recently about the related prosecutorial concept of “Willful Blindness?”

Stay tuned to tomorrow’s blog.

To read the original story upon this blog is based, please go http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/01/17/alleged-members-violent-dorchester-street-gang-arrested-during-early-morning-boston-police-raids/FgI4xJoL5EeoO1fRDTPMTK/story.html

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