Jury Convicts Lawrence Kidnapping Crew Leader
BOSTON – After deliberating for less than an hour, a federal jury in Boston convicted the leader of a kidnapping crew whose organization was involved in violent abductions including burning victims with hot irons.
Danny Veloz, a/k/a “Maestro,” 40, of Lawrence, was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping following a two-week trial. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for Nov. 17, 2017.
Veloz the leader of a violent, sophisticated kidnapping crew in Lawrence, was arrested on Sept. 28, 2012, following a wide-ranging investigation that targeted kidnapping and home invasion crews operating in Lawrence. The majority of these kidnappings were carried out by organized, armed, violent crews often referred to as Joloperros (loosely translated as “Stick-up Guys”).
Veloz’s crew consisted of four other Lawrence men, Jose Guzman, a/k/a “Cano”; Gadiel Romero, a/k/a “TC”; Jose Matos, a/k/a “Boyca”; and Luis Reynoso, a/k/a “Prieto”; as well as Henry Maldonado, of Manchester, N.H.; and Thomas Wallace of Raynham, N.H.
On July 23, 2012, armed with firearms and wearing t-shirts with the word “police” on them, the crew kidnapped two men at gunpoint on Allston Street in Lawrence. The victims were transported to Manchester, N.H., and held overnight – during which time one was burned with a hot iron – before being rescued by law enforcement. The July 23, 2012, kidnapping was one of several kidnappings or attempted kidnappings committed by Veloz’s crew in 2012.
A search of Veloz’s home resulted in the seizure of two laptop computers containing information about GPS tracking devices used to commit kidnappings, as well as cell phones used by Veloz to communicate with his associates. During trial, several individuals testified that in addition to the July 23, 2012, kidnapping, Veloz and his crew also attempted kidnappings on May 8, 2012, and July 8, 2012.
Since the investigation began in 2012, more than 20 people have been convicted of either kidnapping-related offenses or being associated with members of Lawrence-based kidnapping or home invasion crews.
Romero and Matos were sentenced to 23 years and 12 years in prison, respectively, and Guzman, Maldonado, Wallace and Reynoso are scheduled to be sentenced in October 2017.
The charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Lawrence Police Chief James X. Fitzpatrick; Manchester (N.H.) Police Chief Nick Willard; and Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Pohl of Weinreb’s Organized Crime and Gang Task Force prosecuted the case.