An investigation hatched more than a year ago focusing on a reputed Boston street gang member suspected of drug trafficking culminated Thursday in predawn raids that rounded up more than two dozen suspects accused in a violent conspiracy to sell heroin and fentanyl, authorities said.
In total, “Operation Wolfgang” ensnared more than 40 people accused of playing varying roles in a drug trafficking ring that stretched across eastern Massachusetts and is believed to also be responsible for shootings, armed home invasions, and robberies, officials said.
“Make no mistake. Taking these guns and drugs off the streets will save lives here,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “The primary targets in this operation were not street-level dealers and runners. They were kilo-weight suppliers at the top of the domestic supply chain.”
The drug enterprise was tied to the Mozart Street Gang in Jamaica Plain, which has connections to drug traffickers in the Dominican Republic and Mexico and deals in heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine, officials said. The police operation took its name from the street and the famous 18th-century composer.
Twenty-one people targeted during the investigation and six others were taken into custody during the early-morning raids, said Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of Boston’s FBI office. Fourteen people had been previously arrested, while seven others were being sought as of Thursday evening.
Among them was David Medina, described by prosecutors as a major target of the investigation, who is believed to have escaped from an Everett warehouse as police closed in, officials said.
The operation also netted about $80,000, 10 firearms, 5½ kilograms of heroin and fentanyl, Conley said. The arrests occurred in Boston and nearby communities, including Braintree, Brockton, and Cambridge, officials said.
“Today’s arrests will make a dent in the heroin that’s hitting the street,” said Shaw. “Nobody should have to live in the midst of drug dealing or violent criminals, and we hope this well-coordinated effort will help bring some additional peace to the streets of our neighborhoods.”
Investigators started monitoring the group on Sept. 23, using court-authorized wiretaps on 17 phones, prosecutors said.
The monitoring generated thousands of recordings of Yohan Gomez, 29, who prosecutors said was the principal target of the investigation and a Mozart Street Gang member.
By tracking his phone calls, investigators identified other key players in the alleged conspiracy, most notably Elizabeth Comas, a 26-year-old Hyde Park resident with no criminal record, Conley said.
She appeared Thursday in West Roxbury Municipal Court, where her bail was set at $5,000 on allegations that she brought large quantities of heroin into the United States from the Dominican Republic, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office.
“We were able to identify this previously undetected heroin importer only through the use of wire taps,” Conley said.
Gomez was among more than a dozen defendants arraigned in Boston Municipal Court, where some relatives cried as bail amounts were set and defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully that the charges should be dropped because the prosecution had no probable cause to make the arrests.
Gomez, whose bail was set at $2 million, tried to shield his face with papers during his court appearance.
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Kevin McCarthy said Gomez’s alleged criminal conduct went beyond drug dealing to attempts at robberies and an armed home invasion.
On Dec. 3, McCarthy said Gomez and another man, Jeffrey Medina, followed a vehicle belonging to a rival drug dealer in what authorities believed was a robbery attempt. Officers pulled over the vehicle Gomez and Medina were allegedly pursuing and recovered a GPS device that had been installed to track the car.
Four days later, Gomez and Medina were allegedly among a group of armed men who tried to break into a garage attached to a Dedham residence, prosecutors said.
Gomez was taken into custody in Dorchester, where authorities found a firearm with 10 rounds of ammunition, 200 grams of heroin, and $2,300, McCarthy said. At his home in Dedham, officers found a half kilogram of heroin or fentanyl, handcuffs, a Quincy police vest, and $15,000, he said.
Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said the arrests targeting Mozart Street followed a string of operations aimed at other gangs, including MS-13 and streets gangs that grew out of housing developments on Lenox Street and in Columbia Point.
“The message here is clear,” he said. “If you’re going to be involved in these gangs and guns and drugs then we’re going to focus on you and we’re going to put you in jail.”