BOSTON – A leading member of a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy was sentenced yesterday after a multi-year FBI task force investigation into illegal activity in Boston’s Chinatown.
Brant Welty, 41, of South Boston, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro to 100 months in prison and ordered to pay a criminal forfeiture money judgment of $85,500. In March 2013, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and money laundering conspiracy. Welty, along with 12 others, was first charged in 2011 for a conspiracy which spanned Massachusetts, Florida, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and elsewhere, trafficked hundreds of thousands of oxycodone pills and generated over $4 million in proceeds.
The FBI’s Organized Crime Task Force led a long-term investigation into drug-trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, prostitution, and other criminal activity in Boston’s Chinatown and elsewhere. The investigation included a seven month, court-authorized wire surveillance of cell phones, including the phones of five of the defendants associated with the conspiracy. The investigation has resulted in the seizure of over $480,000 in cash, a 38-foot speed boat, numerous luxury vehicles, 13 firearms and approximately 12,000 oxycodone pills. Investigators also uncovered extensive evidence of illegal gambling and prostitution as well as the use of extortionate threats to collect loans to gamblers and others.
The following were also convicted of the drug-trafficking conspiracy and, in the cases of some defendants, money laundering conspiracy: John Willis a/k/a Bac Guai John (White Devil John), 42, of Dorchester, the leader of the conspiracy, sentenced to 20 years; Kevin Baranowski, 41, of Boston, sentenced to 80 months; Peter Melendez, 50, of Sunrise, Fla., sentenced to 160 months; Colby Deering, 41, of Quincy, sentenced to 60 months; Brian Bowes, 42, of Sunrise, Fla., sentenced to 57 months; and Michael Clemente, 29 of Sunrise, Fla., sentenced to 36 months. Bridget Welty, 40, of Boston, was convicted of structuring and was sentenced to one year of supervised release. Anh Nguyen, 28, of Boston, was convicted of witness tampering, and sentenced to one year of probation. Aibun Eng, 38, of Quincy, was convicted of drug conspiracy and has yet to be sentenced.
In another case arising from this investigation, the following defendants were convicted of operating an illegal gambling business, which had been based at 17-23 Beach Street in Chinatown since 2010. Minh Cam Luong, a/k/a Ming Jai, 46; Hin Pau, 45; Judy Huyen Truong, 41, of Quincy; Jian Ming Chen, 38, of Brighton; Elburke Lamson, 47, of Chelsea; and Tan Ngo, 54, of Waltham. Luong and Pau also were convicted of conspiring to use and/or using extortionate means, including threats or actual use of violence, to collect debts, including debts owed to the illegal gambling business.
Luong, was sentenced to 84 months; Pau to 96 months; Chen to one year and one day; Lamson to six months; Ngo to18 months; and Truong to time served and seven months supervised release. Chien Van Tran, 43, of Malden, whose case is pending, is charged with operating an illegal gambling business and extortion conspiracy.
In another case arising from this investigation, Wei Xing Chen, 50, of Cambridge, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute benzylpiperazine (BZP), also known as ecstasy, and conspiracy to distribute BZP. In addition, Chen and Xiaohong Xue, 41, of Cambridge, were convicted of conspiring to induce travel to engage in prostitution. Chen also was convicted of money laundering conspiracy. Chen, who operated brothels in Cambridge and Boston, was sentenced to 70 months while Xue was sentenced to two years of probation, including six months of home detention.
Several members of the drug conspiracy, including Brant Welty and John Willis, frequented Chen’s brothels and/or Luong’s gambling den. Employees of Luong’s gambling business frequented Chen’s brothels. Some of Luong’s employees associated with Willis, and Willis also served as an enforcer for Chen.
In a final case arising from this investigation, brothers Stanley Gonsalves, 34, of Sandwich, and Joshua Gonsalves, 33, of Dennisport, have been charged with distribution and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. Both defendants are detained pending trial.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Organized Crime Task Force which includes IRS Criminal Investigation, Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Department of Correction, and Quincy, Medford and Boston Police Departments. Assistance was also received from the DEA, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Cambridge Police Department, New York City Police Department, Broward County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office and the Ridgeland and Dillon Police Departments in South Carolina. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy E. Moran and Richard L. Hoffman of Ortiz's Strike Force Unit.
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