Sunday, June 5, 2011

MASS. DRUG CASE: 18 People Charged in Drug Operation

**If you or a loved one is facing a Cape Cod Drug Charge, including possession, possession with intent to distribute, distribution, delivery, and trafficking charges, contact Attorney James Powderly today for aggressive and experienced defense of drug charges. Call us 24/7 at 508-343-0676 now. Visit my Cape Cod Drug Defense Website and my Massachusetts Drug Defense Website.**


By Megan McKee, Globe Correspondent

Federal law enforcement authorities unsealed an indictment yesterday that charges 18 people, including a former Watertown police officer, with drug, extortion, and money laundering offenses related to an extensive and organized drug operation, the US attorney’s office announced.

The indictment released by US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz contains a dizzying array of allegations that includes the seizure of more than $3.3 million, seven gold bars worth $364,000, 80 pounds of marijuana, four weapons, and several vehicles over the course of the nine-month investigation

Federal authorities said that the illegal operation was aided by Roberto Velasquez-Johnson, a former Watertown police officer who is accused of tipping off alleged drug distributor Safwan “Sammy’’ Madarati, 36, of Watertown that an investigation was underway.

The indictment alleges that Madarati “used his personal connections with members of the Watertown Police Department’’ including Velasquez-Johnson “to obtain information about law enforcement activity in order to impede and obstruct investigations into his drug trafficking activities in Watertown.’’

Velasquez-Johnson, who lives in Arlington, is also accused of giving out the home addresses of two police officers so Madarati could intimidate them, according to the indictment.

Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau said the department has no information that other police officers were involved and said there is no internal investigation underway.

“We don’t want this to be a reflection on the hard work of the Watertown Police Department,’’ Deveau said in a telephone interview yesterday after the indictment was made public. “We have cooperated in every capacity with the federal authorities.’’

Velasquez-Johnston, who also used the name George Diamond, was fired in November 2010 for unrelated misconduct issues, the Police Department said. Velasquez-Johnson had a history of complaints during his 13-year career in Watertown, Deveau said.

“We have high standards, and that’s why he was terminated,’’ Deveau said. “Unfortunately this is a sad day for us, because we always strive to do what we can for Watertown’s integrity.’’

Velasquez-Johnson is charged with conspiracy and lying to investigators about his contact with Madarati. If convicted, he faces five years on each charge.

According to the indictment, Madarati’s distribution, money laundering, and extortion activities involved numerous people and spanned the country: New York, Nevada, California, Florida, and into Canada.

Locally, activities took place in Newton, Burlington, Bedford, Waltham, and Watertown, where Madarati kept an apartment to manufacture and distribute marijuana and ecstasy, according to the indictment.