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New England News

Crackdown On Drugs, Guns Brings Federal, State Charges

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WAMC
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Twenty-two people have been charged in federal and state indictments with drug and firearm offenses in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts.  Law enforcement officials say some dangerous people have been taken off the streets of a city that has seen a recent spike in deadly gun violence.

The 22 Springfield men ranging in age from 20 to 39 were indicted on a variety of federal and state charges that include distribution of heroin and crack cocaine and illegal gun possession.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Smyth said the 22 are not accused of working in concert with each other. The indictments resulted from separate investigations that culminated at roughly the same time.

"This has been a number of discrete investigations some as recently as last month and some dating back to 2013 and before."

Sixteen of the suspects were arrested without incident Monday, according to Smyth. The arrests were made separately in the Springfield area by Springfield police, Massachusetts State Police and federal agents with the FBI and DEA.  Four people named in the indictments were in custody on other charges. Two remain fugitives.

Smyth said all 22 men have prior criminal records, but he would not elaborate. He also declined to discuss in detail the new charges. Arraignments are scheduled over the next few days.  Two of the men facing federal charges could get life prison sentences if convicted.  The state criminal charges carry possible sentences of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

" I think there was an effort to focus on individuals with a history of violence."

Springfield police said when they arrested 22- year- old Luis Oppenheimer, who is accused in the federal indictment of distributing heroin, they discovered 2,002 bags of heroin and more than $7,600 in cash inside his  house.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno hailed the arrests.

" This collaborative here has taken some very dangerous people off the streets."

   Springfield has seen a rash of gun violence since late April that police have blamed on gangs. Four people have died in shootings. New Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri would not say if there is a direct link between the people indicted and the recent shootings, but he declared the city is safer as a result of the arrests.

" This was a good percentage of those people who have no consequences to their actions. There is no inner voice. They are not looking to reform. Incarceration is the only option."

Springfield police, Monday, announced the arrests of two people on murder charges for the city’s most recent homicide. An 18- year-old man was shot dead outside a convenience store last week.

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