Following the dismantling of what was one of the largest drug trade organizations operating in Boston in recent memory, a law enforcement official called on state lawmakers to change the state’s wiretap law to help bring down other drug-dealing gangs.
Juan Guzman, 33, formerly of Hyde Park, is allegedly the leader of the drug trade organization. He was one of 15 people arrested as part of multi-million dollar cocaine ring operating out of Boston. A year-long investigation dubbed "Operation Rodeo" resulted in the arrests and searches in Boston, Canton and Milton Monday.
Guzman, who is currently serving a 2 ½ year sentence for gun and drug convictions last year, allegedly ran the operation while behind bars.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the Guzman organization, part of the Boylston Street gang, was feuding with another gang and that led to at least 12 shootings and four murders in the last 12 to 16 months.
"This is a serious, organized, sophisticated narcotics distribution network that engages in violence and has been taken out … it's a very happy day for the city of Boston," Davis said.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said the organization grew from a small street gang.
"The Guzman organization was a street gang that grew into a massive, home-grown criminal syndicate," said Conley.
During the announcement of the arrests, Conley noted that prosecutors appeared in court nearly 10 times to obtain wiretaps on a dozen phones used by Guzman's associates. He said the wiretaps were approved only after prosecutors were able to prove that the organization was so large it could be considered organized crime.
"The wiretaps that proved so valuable in dismantling this ring would be just as powerful if put to use against other gangs, but the current state of the law means that violence, even deadly violence, is not enough to warrant a wiretap," Conley said.
He cited a 2011 state Supreme Judicial Court decision that allowed wiretap evidence in a Brockton murder to be suppressed because the government failed to prove a street gang was an organized criminal enterprise. State wiretapping law is limited, but does allow for taps in investigations of organized criminal enterprises.
"People think 'Wiretapping, oh, big brother is listening,'" Conley said. "This isn't a bunch of law enforcement people that just tap into someone’s phone … you have to make out a very strong, credible case of probable cause and you can't even take this step unless you’ve exhausted all other law enforcement and ordinary techniques."