DRCNet Response to the
Drug Enforcement Administration
Between 1975 and 1992, the small Boston community of Charlestown experienced 49 murders, 33 of them unsolved. Police were frustrated by the unspoken "Code of Silence" that the citizens of Charlestown adopted. Whether fear of retaliation by the criminals, anti-police sentiment, or vigilante justice motivated the town's citizens, no one would talk to police.
Charlestown was a main distribution center for PCP and cocaine, with several career criminals, known as the "Irish Mob," in charge of the drug trade. Because drugs were a large part of Charlestown's crime problem, DEA got involved, joining forces with the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police Department, and Boston Housing Police Department. A task force was formed to tackle Charlestown's crime.
DEA agents and local officers worked together to establish a comprehensive case against the criminals. By bringing federal drug laws to bear, the task force was able to develop solid cases. Information was developed that would lead to prosecution on charges of murder to further the drug trade. In addition, special agents of the Department of Housing and Urban Development were able to take action against tenants living illegally in Charlestown housing.
As a result, 40 defendants were indicted on charges that included racketeering, murder, attempted murder, murder for hire, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, armed robberies, and carrying firearms during the commission of crime of violence. Several of the defendants were subsequently convicted of murder.
Once the violent criminals were taken from the community, the threat of retaliation was removed, and the code of silence was broken. A hot line set up by DEA yielded hundreds of calls from community residents that developed into valuable leads and significant arrests. The seriousness of the federal charges reassured the residents that they no longer had to live in fear.
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