A Lynn man was indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with operating a drug trafficking organization in which he allegedly used pill presses to produce thousands of counterfeit pills per hour and distributed the counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl to suppliers on the North Shore.
Vincent Caruso, 26, a/k/a “Fatz,” was indicted on one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana and other controlled substances; one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; one count of possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery); and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Caruso was arrested and charged by Complaint on June 30, 2021 along with co-conspirators Ernest Johnson, Laurie Caruso and Nicole Benton. On Oct. 1, 2021, Benton pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing which is set for April 12, 2022.
According to the charging documents, Caruso, an alleged Crip gang member, operated a large drug trafficking organization with multiple subordinates, to sell counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl to street gangs for further distribution on the North Shore. It is alleged that Caruso possessed and used firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking activities. Caruso allegedly posted and messaged photos and videos using social media that depicted firearms and machine guns in his possession, large quantities of fentanyl that would be distributed by his organization, large amounts of cash and high-end jewelry. It is further alleged that Caruso conspired with others to conduct transactions in order to launder portions of the illegal proceeds of the drug trafficking operation.
The charge of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, at least 10 years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. The charge of conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy involving a machine gun 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 charge of possession of machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime provides for a sentence of at least 30 years, to be served consecutive to the sentence associated with the underlying drug trafficking crime, and up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
First Assistant United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy: Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Division; and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts States Police made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk County District Attorneys’ Offices; Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk and Hancock (Maine) County Sheriffs’ Departments; U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine; Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; and the Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Danvers, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Salem, Saugus, Somerville, Revere, Bolton (Maine), Bangor (Maine), Portland (Maine) and Westbrook (Maine) Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Mallard of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit is 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.