WOBURN — Authorities in eastern Massachusetts have busted up a multi-state drug ring with links to a Mexican cartel, leading to seven arrests in the Commonwealth and Texas, officials said Wednesday.
The arrests were the culmination of a wiretap investigation that began last fall before authorities swooped in to take the suspects into custody on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to arrests Tuesday in Everett, Melrose, Lynn, Chelsea, and Revere, investigators seized a package of two kilos of uncut cocaine at a UPS facility in Massachusetts, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said during an interview at her office.
The cocaine was packaged inside automobile parts to evade detection, Ryan said. She said officials believe a cartel in Mexico regularly supplied drugs to a contact in Texas, who shipped them to Massachusetts.
The cocaine seized Tuesday has a street value of over $100,000, and investigators believe the suspects took in more than a dozen packages between last September and this month, Ryan’s office said.
“This is a very large ring,” the district attorney said.
She added that during the raids, local and State Police also seized about three pounds of marijuana, scales, drug packaging materials, two guns, about $6,000, some 200 grams of a cutting agent, and five cars allegedly used for moving drugs.
Investigators have recovered over $40,000 in alleged drug proceeds as part of the wide-ranging operation.
Ryan said law enforcement agencies are focusing on cocaine because it can be cut with lethal drugs such as Fentanyl that have fueled the deadly overdose crisis in recent years.
And, she said, one of the suspect’s homes in Everett was the site of two separate shooting incidents during the investigation.
“By targeting dealers, we are able to focus our resources on those who supply dangerous drugs and help stop the flow of these lethal drugs into our communities and across our borders,” Ryan said in a statement released by her office.
State Police Colonel Richard McKeon echoed that sentiment.
“This investigation and the resulting arrests affirm the value that court-authorized wire intercepts provide in certain cases, including those involving wide-ranging criminal networks,” McKeon said in a statement.
The suspects arrested Tuesday in Massachusetts were Jorge Delgado-Rivera, 39, and Maritza Medina, 39, both of Melrose; Jairo Salado-Ayala, 36, of Lynn; Alex Cordero, 24, of Chelsea; and Juan Gabriel Cruz G’Arriga, 19, and Jose A. Rivera Azbino, 34, both of Puerto Rico and both apprehended in Lynn.
They were arraigned on various drug trafficking and gun-related charges in district courts in multiple counties and held on bails ranging from $250 to $150,000.
A seventh suspect, Leonel Castaneda, was arrested Wednesday morning on a large ranch in Mission, Tex. and is expected to be transferred to Massachusetts to face related charges, authorities said.
“This is a quality joint investigation that will have a positive impact in and around the Greater Boston area,” said Everett Police Chief Steven Mazzie in a statement.
His counterpart in Melrose, Chief Michael Lyle, also gave the busts high marks.
“This was a coordinated effort... that has impacted the illegal drug supply to this region,” Lyle said in a statement.