15 gang associates arrested on drug and gun charges in raids on North Shore and elsewhere

Fifteen alleged associates of two violent street gangs involved in drug and weapons trafficking were arrested in early morning raids Thursday on the North Shore and elsewhere on a slew of state and federal charges, authorities said.

State and local police, along with FBI agents, conducted the raids in Lynn, Revere, Boston, and New Bedford, officials said. The suspects are affiliates of the Bloods and Latin Kings gangs and operate mainly in Lynn and Revere, said a State Police spokesman.

An estimate for the total quantity of drugs and weapons that the men are accused of selling was not immediately available. They allegedly trafficked in heroin, cocaine, counterfeit drugs, and handguns, according to officials and court records.

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Nine of the men, ranging in age from 22 to 38, are facing federal drug trafficking and gun charges, according to the office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

Two of those suspects, Henry Mercado, 35, of Lynn, and Michael Johnson, 28, of Revere, have prior drug convictions, court records show.

Mercado is now charged with conspiring to distribute at least 100 grams of a substance containing heroin, and Johnson is accused of plotting to move no less than 28 grams of cocaine base, according to court records.

No lawyer was listed on the federal docket on Thursday for Johnson. Mercado’s lawyer declined to comment.

All nine men appeared in federal court in Boston to hear the charges read against them but it was not immediately clear if any of them entered pleas.

In state court, the remaining six suspects are facing drug distribution and weapons trafficking charges in Suffolk and Essex counties, authorities said.

“The arrests [of the state defendants] are the result of a long-term investigation of a group known as the Revere Bloods and their affiliates, targeting the nexus of illegal gun and drug sales in the North Shore area,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.