Boston Police Make Arrests To Head Off Gang Turf War
BOSTON -- Police in Boston and some North Shore communities have arrested dozens of members of a Salvadoran gang in the past few days in an attempt to thwart a gang war, officials say.
Members of MS-13 were arrested on drug, assault and weapons charges in East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Lynn, Everett and Somerville because there was evidence that they were acquiring firearms in an effort to take over territory from smaller rival gangs, police said.
"Up until perhaps three months ago the weapons of choice have been the machete, knives, bottles and rocks," said Boston police Sgt. Donald S. Gosselin. "Recently we've seen a shift to armed attacks."
Two gang-related shootings have occurred in East Boston in recent months and MS-13 members were involved in both, police said.
Chelsea police have also seen an increase in gang violence recently and are bracing for a summer of violence.
"We are worried about the increase in violence and the increase in gun activity we are seeing," said Capt. Keith Houghton, who oversees Chelsea's gang unit.
A large portion of street robberies and home invasions on the North Shore are attributable to MS-13 and other gangs including the Bloods, a Hispanic gang known 18th Street, and a Haitian gang known as D Block, Gosselin said.
A coalition of area police departments known as the North Shore Gang Intelligence Unit, as well as state police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and other agencies, a force totaling about 60, conducted the raids.
Many of the gang members are in the United States illegally and face deportation if convicted, Gosselin said.
"That's good news for us. They're off our radar screen," he said.
Several of the men arrested are extremely violent, police said.
Chelsea police arrested Roger Romero, who was wanted for assault with intent to murder for allegedly stabbing a youth in retaliation for another attack, police said.
In East Boston, police arrested a man carrying a manrikgusari, or a three-bladed knife, police said.
MS-13 originated in El Salvador in the violent 1980s, Boston police said. The gang, which gets its name from Mara Salvatrucha, or Salvador Forever, sometimes uses guerrilla tactics, including machete attacks. Many members were soldiers in El Salvador's civil war.
An 18-year-old Medford man was slashed by a machete during a fight on Revere Beach last month, a fight authorities think was gang related, said David Procopio, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.
"Any time you have an operation like this one it sends a message to the targets that they won't have free reign and that law enforcement has an eye on them," Procopio said.