Fifteen men, all but one from suburbs west of Boston, were arrested Thursday by federal agents for allegedly participating in a illegal drug ring that was based in Natick and sold large numbers of Oxycodone pills.
The arrest capped a four month investigation that included tapping the phones of the suspects, all of whom were charged with conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone, according to the office of Boston US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
The criminal complaint filed in the case alleges that defendant Michael Bourque, 42, of Natick used his shipping company, DEX Corporation, to front the wholesale drug trafficking operation, which authorities said started as early as February 2011 and continued through this April. Bourque allegedly received the drugs through various narcotic suppliers.
According to federal authorities, the 15 men illegally purchased, sold or distributed wholesale amounts of Oxycodone.
Some of the other 14 men charged are accused of selling the pills for, or to, Bourque:
The complaint alleges that two defendants, Mark Ouellette, 43, of Shirley and Acton resident Sean Cotter, 41, distributed 700 pills to Bourque at the end of March. A search of Oulette's home found about 2,000 Oxycodone pills, over $30,000 in cash, and a loaded gun, Ortiz's office said.
The arrests come after authorities received court approval to wiretap conversations between the defendants over a period of four months, the US Attorney's office said.
“With these arrests today we hope to send a strong message that trafficking and distributing prescription pain medication will not be tolerated and we will utilize the full breadth of our law enforcement resources to bare," said John J. Arvanitis of the Drug Enforcement Administration in a statement released by Ortiz's office.
Also arrested were Waltham residents Robert Hagenaars, 37, Barry Goolst, 52, Phillip Goolst, 49, and Thomas Ehwa, 26; Natick residents Frank McGuire, 42, and Christopher Yancey, 41; Newton residents Brian Chisholm, 44, and Raymond Panaggio, 44; Michael Roy, 32, of Milford; Corey Assencoa, 43, of Hopkinton; Mark Newton, 27, of Hudson; and John Kinney, 29, of Woburn.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a lifetime of supervised release, and a $1 million fine, according to Ortiz's statement.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working alongside our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who wreak havoc in Massachusetts cities and towns through the distribution and sale of illegal drugs,” Ortiz said in the statement. “We will continue to keep a vigilant eye over the communities and neighborhoods that we serve in an effort to ensure the highest degree of safety and quality of life for all residents."
The case was investigated by Boston agents of the DEA, FBI, Homeland Security, IRS, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, as well as local and state police agencies, among others.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org