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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Malden Man and Woman Arrested for Drug and Firearms Conspiracy Involving Five Shootings and Multiple Machine Guns

One defendant allegedly committed five shootings and possessed a machine gun while participating in drug trafficking conspiracy

BOSTON – A Malden man and woman have been arrested and charged in connection with a drug and firearms conspiracy that included multiple shootings in Chelsea, Somerville and Cambridge.

Jaiir Coleman, a/k/a “JC,” a/k/a “Chino,” 22, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance; one count of conspiring to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy; one count of possessing a machine gun; and one count of possessing a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy. Coleman is currently in state custody and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Boston at a later date.

Christina Bernbaum, a/k/a “Tina,” 23, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one count of conspiring to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy. Bernbaum was arrested today and will make an initial appearance in federal court this afternoon.

As alleged in the charging documents, Coleman and Bernbaum participated in a long-running conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess controlled substances, including in large quantities locally in the Bangor, Maine area. It is alleged that Bernbaum’s participation included conspiring to distribute controlled substances on Coleman’s behalf during his incarceration. The charging documents describe numerous recorded conversations in which the sale and distribution of controlled substances was discussed, including explicit instructions by Coleman about the manner in which to adulterate fentanyl and the prices to charge. The charging documents further describe numerous videos and images that allegedly depict Coleman and Bernbaum brandishing and holding firearms, including a suspected machine gun.

During the course of the conspiracy, Coleman allegedly committed five shootings. Four shootings took place on Nov. 11, 2019, in Chelsea and Somerville, during which homes and vehicles were allegedly riddled with gunfire. A fifth shooting took place in Cambridge in July 2020, during which it is alleged that Coleman used a machine gun to shoot into a crowd.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Coleman was arrested for operating with a suspended license, during which time a machine gun was recovered from the vehicle. Coleman is currently in state custody. It is alleged that a music video publicly posted online earlier that week depicts Coleman brandishing what appears to be the same machine gun recovered from the vehicle on Jan. 6, 2021.

The charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of conspiring to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to life in prison because a machine gun was involved in the offense, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of possessing a machine gun provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of possessing a machine gun during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and up to life to be served consecutively to the penalty for the underlying drug trafficking crime, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Kelly D. Brady, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Roy E. McKinney, Director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; Somerville Acting Police Chief Charles Femino; Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes; Lynn Police Chief Michael A. Mageary; Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard, Jr.; Salem Acting Police Chief  Dennis King; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis; and Revere Police Chief David J. Callahan made the announcement today made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine, Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Essex County Sheriff’s Department and the Boston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Mallard and Sarah Hoefle of Mendell’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit are prosecuting the case.

The operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal 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. More information on the OCDETF program is available here: https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf/about-ocdetf.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated April 8, 2021