The Los Angeles Times reported that the gun used by Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the Watertown shootout that followed the Boston Marathon bombings has been traced back to a Maine gang.
The gun, which authorities believe was also used to kill MIT officer Sean Collier, was recovered from the scene in Watertown where Tamerlan and his brother, Dzhokhar, engaged in a shootout with police. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the shootout and Dzhokhar was later arrested.
Its journey from a street gang that peddled crack cocaine in Portland, Maine, to the grisly shootout in a Boston suburb tells much about illicit drug and gun trafficking in New England, and perhaps more about Tsarnaev.
Authorities believe Tsarnaev's ties to the illicit drug trade in Maine helped finance his six-month trip to the southern Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan in early 2012, where he became radicalized. Drug money, they say, also may have helped him buy components of the bomb that killed three people and injured more than 260 on April 15, 2013.
The report says police were able to use forensic evidence to tie the gun to a legal purchase by a Los Angeles man at a hunting and fishing store in Maine. Police say the man then passed it along to a gang leader in Portland, Maine named Biniam “Icy’’ Tsegai, according to the report.
From there, it’s unclear how the gun ended up in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s possession. The report says Tsegai was arrested for a 2009 bank robbery and has since been brought up on drug charges tied to crack cocaine transported to the Portland area from Boston. Tsegai has refused to talk to authorities about the gun, the report added.
While Tamerlan Tsarnaev has not been tied to the drug trade, police believe he was involved in the killing of three people in Waltham where $5,000 and marijuana were found at the scene.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is awaiting trial on 30 separate charges stemming from the bombing and subsequent shooting. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 17 of those charges, but Tsarnaev’s defense team is hoping a judge will rule the death penalty unconstitutional, especially since it has been abolished in Massachusetts.