BOSTON – Three men have been convicted in federal court in Boston for their roles in a violent kidnapping tied to a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that distributed heroin throughout the Cape Cod and Pawtucket, R.I., regions.
Anthony Basilici, 39, of Pawtucket, R.I., was convicted yesterday following a five-day jury trial of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; possession and discharge of a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime; kidnapping conspiracy; witness intimidation; and witness retaliation conspiracy.
On Jan. 18, 2023, shortly before trial commenced, Basilici’s two co-defendants, Edwin Otero, 33, of Hyannis, and Justin Joseph, 35, of Pawtucket, R.I., each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; possession of a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime; kidnapping conspiracy; and witness retaliation conspiracy. Otero also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and witness intimidation.
U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled Basilici’s sentencing for April 26, 2023 and sentencing for both Otero and Joseph for April 27, 2023.
“For years, members of Edwin Otero’s drug crew plagued the Cape Cod and Pawtucket communities with their heroin operation and the serious, violent crimes it fueled. These defendants actively participated in a violent scheme to kidnap, beat and terrorize a victim who they incorrectly believed was working with law enforcement,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “This case is a prime example of how drug trafficking activities drive violence in our neighborhoods. Law-abiding residents in our Commonwealth have a right to live their lives without from fear or intimidation by violent gangs. Thanks to the exceptional work by our investigative partners and prosecution team, this violent criminal enterprise has been brought to its knees – bringing peace and safety back to the Cape Cod and Pawtucket neighborhoods it once terrorized.”
“DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling Drug Trafficking Organizations who are responsible for distributing lethal drugs like heroin,” said Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division. “This conviction not only holds these three men accountable for their crimes but serves as a warning to those traffickers who are fueling the opioid epidemic with deadly drugs in order to profit and destroy people’s lives. DEA’s top priority is combatting the opioid epidemic and the violent acts that often accompany it by working with our local, county, state and federal partners to bring to justice anyone who distributes this poison.”
In 2018, law enforcement began investigating a Cape Cod-wide DTO led by Otero. The investigation revealed Otero, Joseph, Basilici and their other co-defendants distributed large quantities of heroin throughout Cape Cod, including in Hyannis, Mashpee, Centerville, Osterville and in Pawtucket, R.I. As part of the conspiracy, Otero, Joseph and Basilici committed a May 2019 shooting related to a drug debt owed by a drug customer. Additionally, in April 2019, Otero, Joseph, and Basilici lured a victim from Massachusetts to Rhode Island where they kidnapped and held him, stripped him naked, assaulted him and threatened to rape him. Otero, Joseph, Basilici and other co-conspirators discussed causing physical injury to the victim to retaliate against him because they believed he was cooperating with law enforcement. Otero and Basilici also further intimidated or attempted to intimidate other witnesses after the kidnapping.
Otero, Joseph and Basilici were initially charged along with eight others in May 2019 on the drug conspiracy charges. In connection with those arrests, heroin, packaging materials, scales, a finger press as well as three firearms and ammunition including a 9 millimeter assault-style weapon were seized from Otero’s grandmother’s residence. In March 2020, Otero, Joseph, Basilici and two others – Cameron Cartier and Albert Lee – were indicted in connection with the violent kidnapping and related charges. Cartier and Lee previously pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 14, 2023 and Feb. 16, 2023, respectively.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin provides for a sentence of up to 40 years in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $5 million. The charge of possession and discharge of a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime provides for a sentence of at least 10 years and up to life in prison on and after any other sentence, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of kidnapping conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of witness intimidation and witness retaliation conspiracy provide for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
U.S. Attorney Rollins, DEA SAC Boyle, Barnstable Police Chief Matthew K. Sonnabend and Barnstable County Sheriff Donna D. Buckley, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Pohl and Lauren Graber of Rollins’ Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.