SALEM — It started with a routine drug bust in the city’s Point neighborhood on Sunday afternoon, but ended with the arrest of a man already wanted by immigration officials, on new charges of public assistance fraud.
Juan Familia-Familia, 37, who lists addresses in Dorchester and Chelsea, was allegedly carrying identification, a Social Security card and two MassHealth benefit cards, all in the name of Luis Melendez, when he was arrested Sunday.
But when police sent his fingerprints to a national FBI database, they were reported to belong to a man using the name Familia-Familia, who had been ordered deported by a federal immigration court, prosecutor Patrick Collins told a judge.
Salem police officers in the department’s Special Response Unit were watching an alley on Salem Street that is known for drug dealing when they saw a young woman walking around, appearing to be waiting for someone.
She eventually admitted that she was there to buy drugs. Police then continued watching the area and a short time later spotted the alleged dealer, Familia-Familia.
As police moved in to arrest him on a trespassing charge (the alley is marked with signs warning against trespassing), Familia-Familia began to struggle.
Eventually, after he was subdued by police, officers found eight bags of heroin on the ground where he had been struggling and three bags of cocaine, each worth about $30, Collins told the judge. He was also carrying $442 in cash.
They booked him using the name Melendez, but then submitted his fingerprints to the FBI database.
Salem police, who had already charged him with possessing heroin and cocaine with the intent to distribute, trespassing, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, added charges of identity fraud, public assistance fraud, refusing to identify himself, and misuse of a Registry document (the state ID card).
Defense lawyer James Craig said his client, who denies using an alias, works as a janitor at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston (the same place former Gov. Mitt Romney held his election-night gathering last week) and has no prior record.
He offered to post $1,000 cash.
But Collins called Familia-Familia “the epitome of a flight risk” and asked Judge Michael Lauranzano to impose a far-higher bail, $100,000 cash.
Lauranzano agreed, noting not only Familia-Familia’s use of phony identification but his immigration status.
A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Dec. 10.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.