Guns, Cocaine, Heroin, Mugshots

Superintendent Lavallee was tight-lipped about what police were up to when a SWAT Team surrounded a home at 352 Lawrence Street last week.
He said only that police were seeking to arrest several individuals on warrants.
Tonight I found out what police were up to.

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On Monday at about 3:30 p.m., city police, Fitchburg Police, and a members of a state police STOP Team quietly went to 19 Lunenburg Street in Fitchburg, and arrested Joshua Ramos, 22, of 352 Lawrence St., Lowell.
Ramos is the alleged ringleader of a group of men in Lowell who are now accused of selling cocaine, heroin, and firearms, and who Lavallee said are believed to be responsible for numerous shots fired incidents in Lowell this year.
“We felt they were an extremely dangerous group of individuals who had access to firearms and would not hesitate to use them,” Lavallee told me tonight. “We feel they were responsible for numerous shots-fired incidents in the city over the last several months.”
Now that Ramos is in custody and being held pending his arraignment in Lowell District Court Tuesday morning, Lavallee revealed that four men from the group have been arrested so far.

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From left to right, above, are the four men arrested so far: Joshua Ramos, 22, of 352 Lawrence St.; Jason Otero, 19, of 96 Lane St.; Jefferson Borrero, 18, of 49 Second St.; and Steven Hernandez, 19, who is homeless.
I’m not sure what was seized where, but as police arrested these four men over the days that have passed since Tuesday, they also seized six handguns, a sawed-off shotgun, over 100 grams of cocaine, over 28 grams of heroin, and over $25,000 in cash, Lavallee said.
Lavallee wouln’t tell me if the group has been linked to specific incidents of violence, but Otero was also arrested on April 13 of this year, following a series of shots fired incidents in the Acre that led to a neighborhood meeting and a lot of concern among residents.
He was arrested, along with another man, following a shots fired incident that I blogged about.
“There is a very strong nexus between firearms incidents and drug trafficking,” Lavallee told me tonight. “We needed to get this group off the streets as quickly as possible.”

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Lavallee gave particular credit for this investigation, which has been underway since Spring, to Capt. Jack Webb and Detective Lt. Barry Golner, who heads the Vice Unit. State Police and the FBI also took part in the investigation.
I’m told police are now processing the weapons seized in this investigation to see if they can be linked to specific incidents around the city. Lavallee wouldn’t tell me if any of these guys are already linked to specific incidents.
The list of charges against these guys is too long to list here, so if you’re interested please download this pdf file listing them all.
More arrests are expected.

Body Found in Lowell

I literally just walked into the office after getting back from vacation and already police are investigating the discovery of a body near the bridge that carries Rogers Street over the Concord River.
Police have only been there since about 3:45 p.m., so no word yet on whether the death is suspicious or who it may be.
UPDATE: The DA’s Office tells me the death does not appear to be suspicious, but it remains under investigation nonetheless. Authorities are still working to confirm the man’s identity.

Sprinting Through the Downtown

It was 1:59 p.m., and a long, loud tone sounded out on police radios warning officers to pay attention — the next call would be a top priority.
A black male, wearing a black leather jacket, black pants, had just robbed Enterprise Bank, 222 Merrimack Street, a dispatcher said.
Police say that, moments earlier, the man had jumped over the bank’s counter, intimidated a teller, and grabbed cash from a drawer before fleeing out the back of the bank.
Officer Kevin Garneau, on bike patrol downtown, heard the priority radio call, and spotted a man fitting the description near Lee Street. Garneau gave chase.
The suspect, carrying a white bag, fled down Paige Street, to John Street. Officer Chistian Hanson joined the chase, yelling for the suspect to stop.
Hanson sprinted behind 80 Bridge Street in pursuit of the man, who soon scaled a fence and ran onto French Street, then Bridge Street.
It was on Bridge Street near French Street that Hanson was able to tackle the suspect, who continued to struggle with Hanson until Officer Niels Christiansen, who is like 9 or 10 feet tall, arrived and helped get the suspect in handcuffs.
Michael Taylor, 21, of 11 Avenue B, was under arrest. In his pocket was a roughly 8-inch kitchen knife. In his white bag was cash.
Taylor, who arrest logs suggest also faced charges last year for leading police on a chase in a stolen car, is now charged with unarmed robbery, possession of a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
Police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee called Hanson, who also made a very big drug arrest earlier this month, a “heck of a cop.”
“There was an immediate response by a multitude of police officers, including UMass-Lowell, and they converged on the downtown within seconds and setup a sort of dragnet,” Lavallee just told me on the phone. “Chris Hanson deserves a lot of credit for this, as do all the officers assigned to the day shift today.”
Taylor will be arraigned Wednesday in Lowell District Court.
As a side note, I recommend no one try to rob the Enterprise Bank downtown. Another robbery attempt there in April of 2008 ended almost identically to this one, except Detective Gary Dillon made the arrest.

NEMLEC SWAT on Lawrence Street

City police and a NEMLEC SWAT team surrounded a multi-unit apartment building at 352 Lawrence Street this afternoon about 4 p.m.
All photos here are from Jon Hill.

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Superintendent Lavallee said he couldn’t say much about what is going on at this point because the activity is part of an ongoing operation to arrest several individuals for whom police have arrest warrants.

Lavallee said he will release details of the operation once it is complete, but it’s not 100 percent clear whether that will be tonight or tomorrow.
Well over a dozen officers with SWAT were at the scene on Lawrence Street, trying to speak to a Joshua Ramos through a loudspeaker, and later entering a third floor apartment after picking the lock on a door.

No one was inside the apartment, but Sgt. David Peaslee, a NEMLEC negotiator, appeared to be talking to someone on the telephone shortly after officers made entry.

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More details aren’t available right now, but the superintendent said he would provide more information as soon as possible. He just isn’t willing to endanger the operation by releasing too much while it’s ongoing.
Stay tuned… I’m going to add two videos too as soon as they’re uploaded.

This Didn’t Take Long

Police got called to the Tedeschi at 970 Gorham Street tonight at 9:35 p.m., for a report that a man and woman had just robbed the store with a knife.
Police were told a Hispanic woman with a black eye, dressed in black pants and a black coat, had walked into the store with a short Hispanic male who had three star tattoos below his eye.
The man had a black mask on his face and a black coat, and he pulled a large knife while demanding money.

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Police quickly recognized the woman’s description, and by 10:30 had found her outside her home at 5 Hampshire Street.
They found a black hat and a knife in the pickup truck she was in. She had a black eye, and black clothing on.
Blanca Colon, 38, was charged with armed robbery. She didn’t want her picture taken, as you can see below, in a picture I took as Officer Charles Pappaconstantinou leads her to the wagon.

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The male suspect is still on the loose.
Anyone with information about his identity is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Lowell Man Killed

Lt. Timothy Crowley just told me that Robert Willey, 54, of Lowell — the man struck while crossing Nesmith Street last night — passed away this morning at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Willey was flown there after he was struck near Chestnut Street, where he lived, about 10:08 p.m.

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Accident reconstruction is still underway, as is an investigation, but Crowley said preliminary indications are that neither speed, nor alcohol, nor drugs were factors.
Daniel Aninkora, 29, of Worcester, was driving the minivan for a medical delivery company. He had just made a delivery at Saints Medical Center when the crash occurred.
There was a woman at the scene last night saying “Bob you’re going to be okay. Bob you’re going to make it.”
I wish that she had been right.

Hair Salon Robbed

Police are on the lookout for two Hispanic men who just held up a hair salon at 462 Merrimack Street at knifepoint.
Car 8 was sent to Queen’s Hair Designs, not far from city hall, at 5:35 p.m., after one of the two men pulled a knife and demanded cash.
The men fled with an undetermined amount of cash. No one was hurt.

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Police said the man with the knife was a Hispanic male, wearing a white hoodie with a white shirt over his face. The other man was dressed in all black. No further description was available.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.