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Former shooting victim, two others arrested in Medford drug sting

Posted by Jarret Bencks  February 14, 2013 01:25 PM

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Medford Police Department

From left to right: John Viera, 62, Michael Hendricks, 37, Joseph Zimmerman, 39.

Three men were arrested on drug charges Tuesday at a West Medford home where an armed robbery and murder took place in 2011, police said.

One of the men arrested, John Viera, 62, was shot in the Feb. 18, 2011 incident, and his son, John Hatch, was killed.

Viera was arrested Tuesday morning at his 55 Jerome St. home, along with Michael Hendricks, 37, and Joseph Zimmerman, 39, following the execution of a search warrant there by Medford Police's narcotics division and a regional SWAT team, Medford police Capt. Kevin Faller said.

Viera was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, Hendricks was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, trafficking cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug law, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

All three men have previous convictions on drug charges, Faller said, but he did not have the details available.

Plastic baggies full of cocaine were found by police in the building's sewer system, allegedly flushed down the toilet by Viera when he heard the SWAT team coming.

According to a Medford Police report, written by Officer Leo Sacco, police first encountered Viera in the bathroom, wearing a pair of snow pants with large cargo pockets. He denied having any drugs in the house, but in an interview with police, a witness in the house said Viera ran to the bathroom and flushed cocaine down the toilet, Sacco wrote.

The city's water and sewer department was contacted, who found the exit location for sewage from the home, where police sifted through the waste to find seven small bags and one larger bag of cocaine, the report said.

Faller said declined to comment on the events leading to the request for a search warrant of the home.

All three men were arraigned in Somerville District Court Wednesday, where Judge Neil Walker set bail at $1,000. They are slated to appear in court for a hearing March 18.

The 2011 incident, in which Viera was shot, resulted in the arrest of Gerald Sullivan, of Charlestown after DNA found at the scene was discovered to be his.

Sullivan was charged with murder, two counts of home invasion, armed assault to murder, armed assault to rob, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, possession of a firearm as an armed career criminal, possession of ammunition as an armed career criminal, and five counts of being a habitual criminal in August 2011.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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