A drug bust in East Boston four years ago started an undercover probe that has led to the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars in laundered drug profits, the seizure of large amounts of heroin and cocaine, and charges against alleged organized crime figures in Colombia and Italy, officials said this afternoon.
The multi-agency, multi-government investigation spanned four years and was built on the undercover work of an unidentified Massachusetts State Police trooper who traveled the world laundering money for the drug rings who shuttled money and drugs between the United States, South America, and Europe.
“This investigation not only been a lengthy one, but it’s been extremely complex,’’ US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said today of the US Drug Enforcement Administration-led investigation that was dubbed “Operation Fire and Ice.’’
She said some 20 people were arrested today in Massachusetts and in Colombia who will now be tried in a Boston courthouse for allegedly laundering drug money through the region. Officials estimated they seized some $200 million in cash, and more than 1,100 kilograms of cocaine, and 46 kilograms of heroin around the world.
Signaling the significance of the investigation to law enforcement in other countries, Ortiz was joined at an afternoon press conference at the Moakley Courthouse by Brigadier General Cesar Augusto Pinzon Arana, commander of an elite anti-drug unit in Colombia, and Detective Vittorio Rizzi, commander of a special investigation unit for the Italian National Police in Rome.FULL ENTRY
David L. Ryan / Globe Staff
A Green Line trolley derailed on South Huntington Avenue today, forcing police to close the street to traffic for about an hour and a half and prompting the T to suspend trolley service between Heath Street and Brigham Circle for nearly five hours.
The trolley was headed inbound on the E branch, approaching the right turn from South Huntington onto Huntington Avenue, when it skidded partially onto the pavement about 100 yards shy of the intersection, at about 9:30 a.m.
No one was injured, and the trolley sustained minimal damage, T officials said.FULL ENTRY
The US State Department decided today it will grant Afghan activist Malalai Joya a visa for a three-week speaking tour, reversing an earlier decision denying her entry to the country.
The announcement came after nationwide protests, including one in Harvard Square Wednesday night, and support for Joya from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. She is now expected to speak Friday evening with Noam Chomsky at Memorial Church in Harvard Yard.
“We hope the decision to grant a visa to Ms. Joya is a signal that the Obama administration is committed to facilitating, rather than obstructing, the exchange of ideas across international borders,” Carol Rose, the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement.FULL ENTRY
Boston police are investigating a double shooting in Roxbury this afternoon.
Police said two men in their 20s were shot at about 4:15 p.m. in the 2900 block of Washington Street, an area near the Jamaica Plain line and Egleston Square.
The two men were found about a block apart. One man was shot in the arm; the other was shot in the back. Both were transported to Boston Medical Center and were expected to survive, said David Estrada, a police spokesman.
Authorities blocked off a section of Washington Street as they investigated, and they cordoned off a yellow three-story house with police tape.
A week after Whole Foods Market tried to woo the Jamaica Plain community, a group of residents is stepping up its fight against the major chain's impending move into the neighborhood.
The group -- called Whose Food? Whose Community? -- has launched a Facebook page and is planning an anti-Whole Foods rally next Monday in Mozart Park at which it will call for a locally based supermarket to move in.
Rally organizers say Whole Foods is unaffordable to many families and will lead to rising real estate and commercial prices in the Hyde Square community.
“I can see the change of my neighborhood in front of my eyes and I can’t believe it,’’ said Rosaldo Solis, a 38-year resident who was born in Mexico. "I'm thinking about what is going on, and it's not just about food.''FULL ENTRY
State Police said today they have captured another man who was on the agency’s list of top 10 most wanted sex offenders.
Samuel Harper Jr., 46, was captured by New Jersey State Police in an apartment in Long Beach, N.J., based on information developed by Massachusetts troopers, police said. Harper is the fifth person on the Top 10 list who has been arrested by State Police since they released the list two weeks ago.
Harper is expected to appear in Ocean City Superior Court today where he has been charged as a fugitive from justice. If he agrees to return without a court battle, Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Rick Hunter and Trooper John Strazzullo, who tracked Harper down, are already in New Jersey ready to transport him back to the state.
Harper is wanted out of the Roxbury Municipal Court and the Lawrence District Court for failure to register as a sex offender. He listed as a Level 3 sex offender by the Sex Offender Registry Board. He was convicted in 1993 of multiple counts of rape of a child with force and assault with intent to commit rape, according to the board.
A Boston woman was identified today as the person who was slain in Jamaica Plain Tuesday morning.
Brenda Pawlowski was 49 years old, according to Boston police. Pawlowski's body was found in the backyard of a duplex at 21 Kenney St. around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. She had been shot in the head, police said.
No arrests have been made. Police have not said what they believe was the motive for the slaying.
Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at 617-343-4470 or send a tip to the CrimeStoppers Hotline at 1-800-494-TIPS or texting ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).
Animal Rescue League
A hawk was captured by the Animal Rescue League of Boston Wednesday night after it was spotted hanging from a net in the Jackson Square MBTA stop, animal rescue officials said.
“He is stable and not injured,” said Alan Borgal, director of the league's Center for Animal Protection in Boston.
Borgal said his organization received a call from the Environmental Police at about 7 p.m. saying that a hawk was stuck in the netting above the stop. When Animal Rescue officials arrived on scene, it appeared as though the hawk was not stuck but clinging to the net. The netting is in place to prevent pigeons from nesting in the Jackson Square stop.FULL ENTRY
An unidentified woman whose body was found this morning behind a Jamaica Plain home had been shot in the head, two law enforcement officials said this afternoon.
The body was found at 7:46 a.m. in the snow-covered backyard of 21 Kenney St., a small red-brick apartment building on a dead end street, police said.
EMTs responded to the scene, but the victim was pronounced dead. No other details were immediately available.
One of the officials said investigators believe that the woman is not from the area. The officials asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.FULL ENTRY
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said extra officers were stationed this afternoon at major thoroughfares to avoid the logjams that delayed this morning's commute.
“There are traffic officers posted all over the city to try to stop cars from the blocking of the box,” Davis said.FULL ENTRY
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more