Police net 30 gang members for drugs and guns

 By Matt Blanchette



Providence Police Press Release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For the second time in four months, the collaborative efforts of the Rhode Island Urban Violent Crime Initiative, a wide-ranging collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement and federal and state prosecutors who are targeting violent crime and violent criminals in urban neighborhoods of Rhode Island, has resulted in state and federal criminal charges being brought against numerous individuals.

In February, it was announced that a year-long series of undercover investigations initiated by the Providence Police Department and the DEA, with substantial assistance from local, state and federal law enforcement, and state and federal prosecutors, was targeting the distribution of heroin and crack cocaine and the importation of firearms onto the streets of Providence.  At the time, the Rhode Island Urban Violent Crime Initiative resulted in the arrests of more than 35 individuals and the seizure of at least 15 firearms.

Building on a series of ongoing investigations which began in September 2013 and bolstered by  law enforcement and prosecutors participating in the Violent Crime Initiative,  an FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force and Providence Police Department investigation, with substantial assistance of the Urban Violent Crime Initiative Task Force, more than two-dozen gang members and associates who are allegedly trafficking cocaine and heroin in Providence and surrounding communities have been charged in federal or state court.

Within the past five days, 14 individuals have been indicted by a Providence Country grand jury on state drug trafficking charges and 11 individuals have been charged by way of indictment of criminal complaint in federal court with trafficking heroin and cocaine.  The federal indictments were for delivery of heroin in excess of 100 grams and conspiracy. The state indictments were for delivery of heroin, cocaine, and conspiracy.  There are several remaining suspects that have warrants issued for their arrest.  Five additional gang members were arrested on state firearm charges during this investigation. Two subjects were also additionally charged with armed robbery with a firearm.  Most of the individuals charged have been identified as members or associates of gangs in and around the South Side of Providence.

“Today- once again- we are proving that when all levels of government and public safety join together to target violent offenders we see substantial results,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Addressing drug distribution and gang violence is a very high priority for me, and we will continue working with our partners to stop this kind of violent criminal behavior.”

“This is another example of federal state and local law enforcement providing a direct focus on specific criminals who chose to cause violence, distribute drugs and create fear in the City of Providence.  This also is a warning to those who wish to engage in drug dealing and violence, this team will be targeting you next,” said Commissioner Steven M. Paré

“This investigation initiated by the Providence Police Department, strikes at the very core of drug, gang, and gun violence in the City of Providence.  It also signifies what can be accomplished by coordinated, interagency efforts to take down violent gang activity. This was another excellent investigation by all involved,” said Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.

“Gang members who try to fill the vacuum left by these arrests should know we will come after them too. Nobody should have to live in the midst of these drug dealing, violent criminals and the FBI hopes this well-coordinated effort will help bring peace to the streets of Providence and its surrounding communities,”  said Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division.