Member of Lawrence Kidnapping Crew Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison
BOSTON – A member of a Lawrence-based kidnapping crew was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for his role in a 2012 kidnapping.
Thomas Wallace, 29, of Raymond, N.H., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to 13 years in prison and three years of supervised release. In January 2014, Wallace pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Wallace was charged in connection with a wide-ranging investigation targeting violent kidnapping and home invasion crews operating in Lawrence. According to court documents, these crews – often referred to as “joloperros,” which loosely translates to “stick-up guys” – were organized, armed and violent.
Wallace was identified as part of a violent, sophisticated kidnapping crew that included Danny Veloz, a/k/a “Maestro;” Jose Guzman, a/k/a “Cano;” Jose Matos, a/k/a “Boyca;” Luis Reynoso, a/k/a “Prieto;” and Gadiel Romero, a/k/a “TC,” all of Lawrence; and Henry Maldonado, of Manchester, 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. Several cooperating defendants advised that the July 23, 2012 kidnapping was one of several kidnappings or attempted kidnappings committed by this crew in Lawrence in 2012.
A federal investigation identified this crew as one of several kidnapping and home invasion crews. The crews typically kidnapped drug dealers for large ransoms that were paid in cash or drugs; used safe houses to stash their victims; and used sophisticated tracking techniques, such as GPS devices, to follow their victims. The crews targeted drug dealers because they believed that the drug dealers were unlikely to cooperate with law enforcement, were subject to deportation, or feared reprisals, either against themselves or their families in Lawrence or in their native country. Numerous kidnapping victims described how they were abducted, tortured, and forced to pay ransoms of hundreds of thousands of dollars (either in the U.S. or in the Dominican Republic) to joloperros crew members. Victims were burned, scarred, bruised, and given other significant physical injuries marking them as kidnapping victims. During the investigation, law enforcement seized dozens of firearms, including shotguns, GPS devices, irons used to torture victims, masks, zip ties, t-shirts with the word “police” on them, fake police badges, handcuffs, and drugs.
Veloz was convicted by a federal jury in August 2017, and will be sentenced on Nov. 16, 2017. Matos and Romero were previously sentenced to 12 years and 23 years in prison, respectively. Guzman, Reynoso and Maldonado previously pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced in November 2017.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger; Lawrence Police Chief James X. Fitzpatrick; and Manchester (N.H.) Police Chief Nick Willard made the announcement today. The cases are being prosecuted by Weinreb’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit.