Fifteen people have been indicted and 14 were arrested Thursday in connection with a Lowell-based criminal gang that has allegedly operated large, long-running drug trafficking and money laundering operations, officials said.
The defendants are members and associates of One Family Clique, an alliance between several Lowell-area gangs with ties to gangs in California and other states, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office for Massachusetts.
Thirteen of the defendants are Lowell residents; the other two live in Hudson and Medford, according to the statement.
The 14 who were arrested made their initial appearance Thursday in federal court in Boston, where nine were ordered held without bail and five were released with conditions, a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office said.
One defendant was still a fugitive as of Thursday evening.
“We allege that leaders and members of the One Family Clique trafficked drugs and firearms, contributing to the kind of violence we all know destroys communities,” Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell said in the statement. “The residents of Lowell will enjoy a safer summer thanks to the work of investigators and our prosecutors.”
Authorities began investigating One Family Clique in August 2018 after Lowell experienced a dramatic increase in shootings and gang violence, according to the statement. At least a dozen incidents of gunfire in Lowell in 2018 and 2019 are believed to be the result of hostilities between the alliance and its rivals, prosecutors said.
The alliance’s alleged founder and leader is Sarath Yut, also known as “Black,” who is also allegedly a member of the Crazy Mob Family, one of the gangs in the alliance, according to the statement. Yut and the other defendants allegedly used the US Postal Service to send cash and receive illegal narcotics and maintained stash houses in Lowell where they held gang meetings, prosecutors said.
Authorities also made controlled purchases of drugs and a gun from alleged alliance members Virak Prum, Peouveasnah Pin, and Sambo Buth, according to the statement.
In August 2019, Pin and Buth also allegedly transported counterfeit cash procured from an undercover agent over the state line from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, prosecutors said.
Last month, Prum, Pin, Samoeun Kem, and Richard Sam allegedly helped pack a shipment of money, purportedly derived from sales of black tar heroin in Europe, into a truck and escorted it from New York to New Hampshire, according to the statement.
During the investigation, agents have seized or bought about 2.32 kilograms of cocaine, 10.78 kilograms of methamphetamine, 41 grams of fentanyl, 30 grams of MDMA, 513 grams of heroin, $104,396 in cash and three guns, according to prosecutors.
“We believe this crew jeopardized public safety, and steadily poisoned the parts of Lowell they controlled, dealing large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, while conspiring to launder their profits to hide what they were doing,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, said in the statement.