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Department Of Justice Shuts Down Major Drug Trafficking Organization In The Northeast

Image credit: Jason Lawrence

BOSTON, MA. -  The final defendant in a comprehensive investigation focused on drug trafficking and gang violence in communities north of Boston has been convicted of participating in a significant drug trafficking conspiracy, the Department of Justice reports

Armani Minier-Tejeda has been convicted as the 18th and last federal defendant in this case. In the past three years, an investigation has led to the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of several individuals involved in drug trafficking and violent crimes in the greater Boston area. 

These individuals include Vincent Caruso, also known as "Fatz," Laurie Caruso, Ernest Johnson, also known as "Yo Pesci," Phillips Charles, also known as "Phon C," and David Oth, also known as "Baby Bouncer," who is a significant supplier of methamphetamine and a leader of the street gang known as the Tiny Rascal Gangsters (TRG).


According to a statement from Christopher DiMenna, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, Armani Minier-Tejada has been convicted of multiple shootings related to his involvement in a drug trafficking operation. 

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DiMenna said the operation was responsible for distributing various illegal substances, including fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine, throughout the streets of Maine.

The Department of Justice reports the conspiracy involved the production and distribution of substantial quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine, exceeding 10 kilograms each. The operation spanned across Boston, the North Shore, and Maine. According to the Department of Justice, it was proven that the defendant was involved in six shootings. The individual in question also acted as a supplier for various drug dealers in Maine and was involved in obtaining more than 40 firearms for gang members.

Armani Minier-Tejada, also known as "Shotz" or "Gustavo," aged 23, has been found guilty by a federal jury on multiple charges. These charges include conspiracy to distribute and possess controlled substances such as fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, and others, as well as conspiring to possess, use, and carry firearms in connection with a drug trafficking scheme. 

Additionally, Minier-Tejada was convicted of possessing a machine gun in relation to the same drug trafficking conspiracy. The sentencing for the case has been scheduled by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton on October 5, 2023. The Department of Justice says Minier-Tejada is facing a potential prison sentence of a minimum of 40 years based on the charges for which he has been convicted.

According to Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Office, the DEA is dedicated to investigating and dismantling poly drug trafficking organizations involved in violence, such as the one led by Armani Minier-Tejada in Massachusetts. 

He says drug trafficking in communities, along with the potential for gun and physical violence, is considered a significant concern for public safety, and that the DEA, along with its local, state, and federal partners, is committed to ensuring that those who commit these crimes are held accountable. 

The investigation was initiated in 2020 due to a rise in shootings in communities north of Boston. These shootings were allegedly carried out by street gangs whose violence is motivated by drug distribution. Minier-Tejada, along with Shelby Kleffman, Jaiir Coleman, and Christina Bernbaum, were arrested and charged in early 2021 as a result of the investigation. All three individuals involved in the conspiracy, including Minier-Tejada, have pleaded guilty and are currently awaiting sentencing.

Minier-Tejada was associated with the TRG, which is recognized as one of the country's largest and most aggressive criminal street gangs. The gang operates through local groups or "sets" using a decentralized structure. TRG is reportedly involved in the distribution of various illicit substances, such as powdered cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. The Department of Justice says there have been reports of members being associated with incidents of gun violence, including drive-by shootings targeting residences of rival gang members.

The Department of Justice says evidence presented at trial suggests that Minier-Tejada and his co-conspirators were involved in a conspiracy to produce, distribute, and possess significant amounts of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine in Boston, the North Shore, and Bangor, Maine. Minier-Tejada was involved in supplying various drug dealers in Maine. Together with his co-conspirators, they were responsible for trafficking significant quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine, exceeding 10 kilograms each, into the state.

Minier-Tejada and his associates allegedly created several videos and images in which they were seen holding firearms, including multiple machine guns. According to the Department of Justice, it has been found that Minier-Tejada and Coleman were involved in six shootings in Boston and nearby areas during 2019 and 2020. 

These incidents were allegedly connected to their involvement in the drug conspiracy. One of the shootings that occurred in Cambridge in July 2020 was reportedly in response to a video being live-streamed from a parking lot. The video accused Minier-Tejada and Coleman of cooperating with law enforcement. Minier-Tejada and Coleman went to the streaming location carrying two firearms, one of which was a machine gun. They proceeded to discharge at least 30 rounds into a sizable group of individuals who had assembled in the parking lot.  

Furthermore, the Department of Justice says it has been established that Minier-Tejada played a role in obtaining more than 40 firearms and multiple "selector switches" for TRG members. These items were acquired from drug users in Maine. "Selector switches," also known as auto sears, are aftermarket components that can potentially modify a semi-automatic firearm to function similarly to a machine gun. 

According to Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy, the primary objective of the Department of Justice is to ensure the safety of communities. He says this case is expected to serve as a clear message to individuals involved in the distribution of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs, as well as those who openly carry dangerous firearms to protect their illegal activities. He says they will face thorough investigation and legal prosecution. 

The ATF expressed gratitude to the U.S. Attorney's Office for their efforts in pursuing this investigation, along with the state and local partners who provided assistance. The investigation involved an incident where a machine gun was fired into an open public area. James M. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF, Boston Field Division, believes the community can find reassurance in the fact that Armani Minier-Tejada has been found guilty for his crimes, which contributes to the safety of the streets. 

The charge of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a certain amount of fentanyl and methamphetamine carries a potential sentence of at least 10 years to life in prison, at least 10 years to life of supervised release, and a fine of up to $10 million, according to the Department of Justice. 

The Department of Justice also says the charge of conspiring to possess, use, and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment due to the involvement of a machine gun. It also includes a period of five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. 

The offense of possessing, brandishing, and discharging firearms, including a machine gun, during a drug trafficking crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum sentence of life. in this case, this sentence is in addition to the penalty for the underlying drug trafficking crime. 

Additionally, the offender may face five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The Department of Justice says Minier-Tejada faces a mandatory 40 years in federal prison due to the crimes he was convicted of. Sentences are determined by a federal district judge according to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  

This effort is associated with an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. The OCDETF program is responsible for identifying, disrupting, and dismantling criminal organizations that pose a threat to the United States. This is achieved through a multi-agency approach that is led by prosecutors and driven by intelligence. For more information about the OCDETF Program, please visit the official website at

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