When it comes to drugs, our borders are closer than you think

Living so far to the north, one might tend to think that the madness and murder in the southern U.S. Border States is a world away.

In all honesty, the drugs, violence and illegal immigration that runs part and parcel to the latter can seem like a problem for Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California – not Massachusetts.

However, think again.

Border problems that seem like a world away emerged in Revere over the last few years, and state law enforcement and the FBI are just now unraveling a drug operation here that allegedly had direct connections to Colombian drug kingpins who – in recent years – have set up shop all along the U.S. border. Once a week, runners in the alleged Revere operation brought Colombian drugs directly from the Mexican/American border and then allegedly distributed those drugs to a network of lieutenants, dealers and runners throughout the city – many of them illegal immigrants.

A world away, but very close to home.

After nearly two years of investigation using state-of-art wiretaps, numerous Spanish translators and intelligence from many low-level drug busts, authorities broke the case on March 16.

In doing so, they were able to nab the kingpin of the operation, Ferney Pereanez, 24, who lived mostly at 11 York St. in Revere during the investigation.

“Today’s arrests come after two years of investigation into the workings of a Colombian drug trafficking syndicate operating throughout the greater Boston area and elsewhere in Massachusetts,” said DA Dan Conley after the arrests. “They are the result of a wiretap operation so extensive that it required federal funding and at least three Spanish-speaking translators at any given time…The evidence developed during hundreds of cell phone interceptions suggests that Pereanez is a drug kingpin in the truest sense of the word: He imports large quantities of cocaine from Colombia into Massachusetts and distributes it through a network of lieutenants and runners.”

Some nine people – most Revere residents – were mentioned in court documents, and authorities noted that they seized $25,000 cash and well-over two kilograms of cocaine during the March 16th arrests.

A Run to the Boarder

Using illegal aliens mostly to handle the drugs, investigators said Pereanez – who had a U.S. passport – kept himself away from the product. Allegedly, he just dealt on the business end of things.

He allegedly put together a connection that supplied him with the purest of cocaine directly from Colombia, and authorities allege that he sent his cousin, Luis Pereanez, of Chelsea, and others, to the border area in California to rendezvous with his Colombian sources – sources that have become common along the U.S. border.

Authorities allege that the syndicate brought in more than $150,000 of cocaine a week from the border.

In Revere and Chelsea, they processed the drugs and then spread them out to the most common-looking homes – places on quiet sections of Arnold Street and Atwood Street where drug dealers were already in place to fan out and spread the pure product all over the streets of Revere, Chelsea, East Boston and even locales as far away as Framingham.

Those dealers and others, authorities said, were often illegally in the country, and when they got caught, it was just a matter of business for Pereanez. Court records indicate that using illegals was to his advantage, as they would be deported with little or no consequences after he bailed them out of jail with cash.

“He attempted to insulate himself from his co-conspirators’ transactions and does not physically handle the drugs,” said DA Conley. “In the past, when his non-citizen underlings have been arrested, he’s posted their bail and paid for their lawyers – not to have them freed, but to have them deported so they could not be used against him by prosecutors.”

Lending an Ear

Early last fall, after more than a year’s worth of footwork, authorities got permission to place a special wiretap and special cameras and other surveillance equipment.

Law enforcement began to close in by using the Boston Police’s new, state-of-the-art wiretap room – along with numerous Spanish translators, Revere Police investigators and FBI agents.

Initially, the wiretaps picked up conversations between two Arnold Street neighbors who were allegedly high-level dealers in the organization.

Biviana Yaneth Lotero Montoya and her boyfriend Wilmar Medina, both of 150 Arnold St., were frequently heard talking to Maritza Franco, of 180 Arnold St., complaining about the organization, the quality of the drugs and the quantity.

Wiretaps led investigators to other alleged dealers, including Martha Garcia of 96 Atwood St.

Using that surveillance and coordinated police stops over several months, investigators pieced more and more together. However, growing somewhat suspicious of police activity, Ferney Pereanez was tipped off to officers following him in December, and was able to get a friend to run the officers’ plate through the Registry system – revealing that law enforcement was on his heels.

He fled almost immediately to Colombia – where officials said he continued to orchestrate his organization by phone with his sister, Paula Lopera, who lives at 33 Maggi Rd.

Nevertheless, the lure of big money and his long-standing organization lured him back to the states and he returned in late January – shacking up in Eastie to avert police attention at his York Street apartment.

In mid-March, police were ready to move, and they arrested Pereanez and numerous Revere residents in the early-morning raid.

Top of the Ladder

DA Conley – in remarks after the arrest – said that without the wiretaps, Pereanez would have continued indefinitely to run trips to the border states, allegedly bringing back cocaine and handing it off to illegal immigrants and other non-citizens to sell throughout the community.

After arraignment, all suspects in the case were held on high bail, and prosecutors and defense attorneys are now preparing to set a trial date for the case.

“Pereanez would never have been identified in the first place without the strategic use of wiretaps in this case,” said Conley. “The only risk would be to his runners and underlings who undertook the transactions on his behalf. Were it not for the Boston Police Department’s new state-of-the-art wiretap room, we could indict runner after runner for years and never make a significant impact on Pereanez’ trafficking enterprise.”

Such arrests make it quite clear that the border and its daily chaos might be thousands of miles away, but its problems – more often than not – find their way into our own backyards.

Cutlines – ‘BorderDrugs’ and ‘BorderDrugs2’

These two normal-looking houses on a quiet part of Arnold Street near Route 1 allegedly were home to two large dealers in a huge Colombian cocaine ring that operated here by bringing large quantities of the drug up from the U.S. border. Investigators moved in on the organization after allegedly overhearing the two Revere neighbors discuss details of the syndicate over a wiretap.

Ferney Pereanez –

Ferney Pereanez, who did live on York Street, was alleged by prosecutors to be a “drug kingpin” in the truest sense of the word. He is alleged to have arranged the weekly delivery of Colombian drugs from the U.S. Border to Revere, for distribution on the city streets.

Wilmar Medina & Maritza Franco –

These two Arnold Street neighbors, Wilmar Medina and Maritza Franco, along with a third female, were allegedly often heard on police wiretaps talking about the operation.

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