BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A Salem man was among more than 20 individuals arrested following an investigation into a “sophisticated drug trafficking network” in eastern Massachusetts, prosecutors announced.
Roosevelt Hill, 52, was described by Suffolk County prosecutors as a “third tier” participant in the ring, which was uncovered through a wiretap investigation by Boston police and the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
The yearlong investigation, dubbed “Operation Limehouse” by law enforcement for a section of London known for drug use, targeted importers and distributors of heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Investigators seized two kilograms of heroin, along with cash, guns and other contraband.
All of the defendants, including Hill, were arraigned on drug conspiracy charges yesterday in Boston Municipal Court, according to the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
Two of the alleged leaders of the enterprise were being held without bail until their true identities can be confirmed; a third leader, Rafael “Chi-Chi” Peguero, 42, was held on $2 million bail.
“The defendants charged in this case, by and large, aren’t young men or fresh to the game,” Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said in a press release. “They’re in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even older. They had a business plan and a mission statement — to make as much money as possible by selling narcotics through carefully-selected runners and distributors. This was a highly organized, highly disciplined group that worked with major suppliers. It had tentacles that reached from the heart of Boston to as far north as Salem and as far south as Attleboro.”
Hill in 2003 was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a burglary in Beverly, during which the 64-year-old homeowner came home. She managed to pin Hill against a wall during a struggle, but Hill was able to flee. He later challenged his conviction on the grounds that the identification procedure was racist because he was the only African-American person at the scene of a “show up” identification procedure, but the Appeals Court upheld the conviction.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.