Authorities arrest multiple people in alleged drug trafficking ring they say could produce 15,000 counterfeit Percocet pills per hour

USAIT096_Post_Hero_01a_1366x496

Authorities arrest multiple people in alleged drug trafficking ring they say could produce 15,000 counterfeit Percocet pills per hour


By 

Originally posted on
masslive’s Logo
www.masslive.com

Multiple people were arrested and charged on Wednesday in connection with operating a drug trafficking organization that supplied counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl to suppliers on the North Shore of Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Justice press release.

Authorities believe that the defendants possessed a pill press that could produce 15,000 pills per hour, which they used to make counterfeit Percocet pills that contained fentanyl.

The following are those arrested and their charges, according to the release:

  • Vincent Caruso, 26, “Fatz” and “Big Boy,” of Salem
    • Charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; one count of conspiracy to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate commerce involving the proceeds of dealing in a controlled substance; and one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy. He was also charged with one count of conspiracy to possess a tableting machine to manufacture a controlled substance.
  • Ernest Johnson, 33, “Yo Pesci,” of Salem
    • Charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; one count of conspiracy to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate commerce involving the proceeds of dealing in a controlled substance; and one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy.
  • Laurie Caruso (Vincent’s mother) 51, of Lynn
    • Charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and one count of conspiracy to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate commerce involving the proceeds of dealing in a controlled substance.
  • Nicole Benton, 45, of Saugus
    • Charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and one count of conspiracy to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate commerce involving the proceeds of dealing in a controlled substance.
  • Cesar Rivera, 22, of Revere
    • Charged separately with one count of possessing controlled substances with intent to distribute and one count of conspiracy to possess and use a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Caruso is self-admitted Crip gang member who operates a large drug trafficking organization with co-defendants Johnson, Laurie Caruso, Benton and others, according to the charging documents, in order to sell counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl to street gangs on the North Shore to further distribute.

A counterfeit fentanyl pill can sell between $10-20, according to the documents. Vincent Caruso was claimed to have multiple pill presses that can generate thousands of pills per hour, meaning there was potential to generate millions of dollars in sales.

Court documents also claim that Vincent Caruso and Johnson possessed and used firearms in to further drug trafficking activities, posting footage of firearms, including an AR15, fentanyl pills, cash and high-end jewelry.

“Johnson allegedly described his involvement in shootings, beatings and drug trafficking and identified people he believed to be a ‘rat’ or a ‘snitch,’” the press release said.

Benton and Laurie Caruso were claimed to have conducted cash transactions for illegal proceeds of the drug trafficking operation by placing sports bets at a New Hampshire casino, according to the release.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force conducted this operation with a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply, according to the release.

Copies of the charging documents, which contain all allegations, can be found online.

Vincent Caruso, Johnson, Laurie Caruso and Benton were all arrested this morning. They will make initial appearances via zoom in federal court in Boston this afternoon.