News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2006

Eleven Fall River Area Men Including Alleged Gang Members Charged with Federal and State Gun and Narcotics Offenses

Boston, MA... Complaints were unsealed charging a total of eleven Fall River area men with various federal and state firearms and narcotics offenses as a result of multiple investigations throughout the City, under the Project Safe Neighborhoods federal gun program. The complaints resulted from federal, state and local authorities efforts to reduce violence in the Fall River area by identifying felons in possession of firearms and ammunition, and gang members involved in violent crimes and drug dealing in the Fall River area.

June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New England,United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Glenn N. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in New England, , Paul F. Walsh, Jr., Bristol County District Attorney; Edward Lambert Jr., Mayor of the City of Fall River, and John M. Souza, Fall River Police Chief, announced the charges against eleven individuals, with five of the eleven arrested this morning and four of the eleven presently in state custody.

In their on-going effort to reduce firearm-related, and gang violence in the City of Fall River, Bristol County District Attorney Walsh and Fall River Police Chief Souza, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Rhode Island Regional Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office began a number of investigations with the goal of reducing firearm related activity and the number of guns available on the streets of Fall River, and to reduce gang violence in the Fall River area. As a result of this effort, a total of six guns and ammunition been removed from the streets.

The cases are being prosecuted as part of President Bush’s Project Safe Neighborhoods federal gun program which makes prosecution of firearms and gang cases a top priority. Project Safe Neighborhood’s provides a comprehensive, strategic approach to reducing gun violence in America. Since 2002, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office implemented the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, eleven cities across the state, including Fall River, have joined in the program.

U.S. Attorney Sullivan praised the joint effort, saying, “As these complaints reflect, the partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement is in place, and hard at work. These federal complaints and state charges demonstrate how communities can benefit from multi-jurisdictional investigations and information sharing. They also reflect our commitment to prosecute cases in whichever venue provides for the longest possible sentence upon conviction. I commend all of the investigators and prosecutors whose persistence and hard work resulted in the removal of six firearms and ammunition, and violent gang members from the streets of Fall River.”

“Guns, drugs and gangs have plagued the streets of Fall River for too long” stated Glenn N. Anderson, Special Agent In Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. “Today several individuals have been taken off the street and face many years in prison. This should send a strong message to those who continue to bring violence to our neighborhoods. Together with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners we will continue our efforts in the Fall River area” stated Mr. Anderson.

“Today what was once known as the Mafioso street gang has been silenced. The gang leader and his associates have been given notice that they do not control the streets in our communities. Their reign of violence, intimidation and running the streets as open air drug markets is over”, said DEA Special Agent in Charge June W. Stansbury. “We would like to recognize the hard work of the Fall River Massachusetts Police Department, the Tiverton Rhode Island Police Department and the Bristol Rhode Island Police Department during this investigation.”

Chief John M. Souza said, "The Fall River Police Department is pleased to take part in this announcement today. Over a period of one year our detectives have collaborated with federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, at times in an undercover capacity, to target these individuals who are among the most dangerous of criminals in our community. These results are a fine example of the partnership that the Fall River Police Department has fostered with federal agencies and the United States Attorney’s Office in aggressively and pro-actively pursuing those individuals who are a threat to the peace of our community. We look forward to a continued relationship with federal authorities in the future as we work diligently to remove drugs, guns and dangerous individuals from the streets of our community."

“With unprecedented co-operation between local, state and federal law enforcement we are beginning to turn the corner on gun and gang violence. I give a lot of credit to Fall River Police Department Chief Jack Souza, Mayor Edward Lambert, and U.S Attorney Mike Sullivan.” Walsh said

The defendants are charged as follows:

1. FREDDY TORRES, JR., (“TORRES”), age 37 , of 474 Williams Street in Fall River, MA, is charged in a Complaint with being a felon-in-possession of a firearm;

1. MICHAEL PERALTA, (“PERALTA”), age 24, of 151 Quequechan Street, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a Complaint with conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, (“crack cocaine”);

2. MASON LEWIS, (“LEWIS”), age 25, of 151 Quequechan Street, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a Complaint with conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, (“crack cocaine”);

3. CARLOS AYALA (“AYALA”), age 22, of 204 Pleasant Street, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a Complaint with possession of an unregistered firearm, a sawed-off shotgun;

4. JOSE RODRIGUEZ, (“RODRIGUEZ”), age 37, of 474 William Street, Third Floor, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a Complaint with distribution of cocaine base, (“crack cocaine”);

5. RAFAEL VASQUEZ (“VASQUEZ”), age 32, of 300 Amity Street, #801, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in an Indictment with being a felon-in-possession of a firearm and ammunition, and with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack cocaine”);

6. DAVID ALVAREZ (“ALVAREZ”), age 35, of 22 Sunset Hill, Apartment #22, Fall River, MA, is charged in a Complaint with being a felon-in-possession of a firearm, and with possession of an unregistered firearm, a sawed-off shotgun;

7. JEROME DAVIS, (“DAVIS”), age 21, of Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a Complaint with distribution of cocaine base, (“crack cocaine”);

8. KIMARNI BENNETT, (“BENNETT”), age 22, of 100 Green Street, Apartment 108, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a Complaint with distribution of cocaine base, (“crack cocaine”);

9. ALLISON LOKEMON, (“LOKEMON”), age 22, of 151 Quequechan Street, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a Complaint with conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, (“crack cocaine”).

Also arrested and charged with violations of state law:

10. MASACHI MAXIMIN, (“MAXIMIN”), age 25, of 45 Plain Street, Apartment 2N, Fall River, MA, is charged is charged in a state court Complaint with unlawful possession of a firearm without a license.

The federal felon in possession statute prohibits any person who is convicted of a felony from possessing a firearm or ammunition. The federal possession of an unregistered firearm law prohibits the unlicensed possession of certain weapons. The federal drug conspiracy statute prohibits conspiring with others to distribute narcotics, and the federal distribution of cocaine base law punishes the distribution of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).

The defendants who are in state custody, will be brought into federal court at a later date.

Upon conviction, the felon in possession charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Upon conviction, the unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. The drug conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. The drug distribution charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

The cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Fall River Police Department. The U.S. Attorney would like to thank Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh, Jr.’s Office for their assistance in the investigations.