A group of Malden men in their early 20s who police say have menaced the Maplewood neighborhood for years have been charged with receiving $1 million worth of marijuana mailed from California.
The seven men had more than 400 pounds of high-grade marijuana shipped via the US Postal Service to Malden between February 2012 and March 2013, Middlesex County District Attorney Gerard T. Leone said Thursday.
Six of them were arrested during raids conducted by Malden and State Police in at least five homes in Malden and one in Lynn Thursday morning, according to police reports.
Inside the homes, police found six guns, including one assault weapon and four semi-automatic weapons, a bulletproof vest, scales, and thousands of dollars in cash, Leone said.
Police obtained judicial approval last month for wiretaps to aid the investigation.
Dat Tran, 23, is described in court documents as the operation’s ringleader. He was allegedly recorded negotiating prices and determining shipping locations with members of an unidentified California drug syndicate.
Recorded conversations link the group to 50 shipped packages containing marijuana, police reports said.
Malden’s acting police chief, Doug Perrigo, said some of the men arrested had been known to police for years. He described Dat Tran and Reginald Miller, 20, as high-level figures in Malden crime.
A Malden detective, J.P. Kelley, said he has been familiar with some of the defendants since they were as young as 10, when they would set small fires in the Maplewood neighborhood.
“They grew into something more, something real fearful,” Kelley said.
Six of the seven men were arraigned in Malden District Court Thursday.
Tran is charged with possession of ammunition as an armed career criminal, trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to traffic in marijuana, and money laundering. He was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail.
Others charged include: Daniel Knight, 23; Joshua Joyner, 21; Brendan Joyner, 20; Tyrell Rollin-Sutton, 20; Deandre West, 21; and Miller.
All are slated to appear in court for probable cause hearings in April.
The investigation continues, Leone said.
Jarret Bencks can be reached at Bencks.Globe@gmail.com.