BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — Eleven members of an alleged North Shore pill trafficking ring, which prosecutors said was funded in part by the proceeds of insurance fraud, were arraigned yesterday in Salem Superior Court following a two-year investigation.
Four others remain at large.
Prosecutors say the operation was discovered during a separate investigation by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police, who had been conducting wiretaps of suspects in that area and heard conversations about transactions involving thousands of OxyContin, oxycodone and Percocet pills.
Massachusetts state police began investigating, and last week, a grand jury handed up indictments.
The alleged leader of the enterprise, Henry Hernandez, 37, of Lynn, faces eight counts, including trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering, insurance fraud and larceny. His bail was set at $30,000 on the new charges; Hernandez was already out on $30,000 in an earlier indictment.
Prosecutor A.J. Camelio said Hernandez was heard in the wiretaps discussing how he would obtain the pills, sending runners to New York on some occasions and sometimes going himself. He’s facing an additional charge in Worcester County, after state police stopped him there and found a batch of pills, Camelio told the judge.
Hernandez was also charged with inducing others to make false claims after he was involved in a car accident, according to Camelio, who is prosecuting the case along with Phil Mallard.
Some of the money they collected in the scheme was used to purchase more pills, which were then resold on the North Shore.
Also arraigned yesterday were:
Jason Gentry, 33, of Salem, a former constable, on charges of conspiracy, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute and insurance fraud. Gentry, who turned himself in after learning of the warrant, was released on personal recognizance.
Manuel Moya, 24, of Salem, charged with misleading investigators, conspiracy, money laundering and insurance fraud. Bail was set at $3,000.
David Soucy, 36, of Danvers, charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, trafficking oxycodone, conspiracy and illegal possession of a firearm.
Celton Pelaez, 38, of Peabody, charged with trafficking oxycodone and conspiracy. His bail was set at $10,000.
Anthony Hernandez, 33, of Peabody, charged with conspiracy; his bail was set at $7,500.
Willmi Espinal, 25, of Salem, charged with conspiracy; his bail was $1,000.
Grejtis Osmanaj, 24, of Peabody, charged with conspiracy. His bail was set at $500.
Albert Moore, 43, of Beverly, charged with conspiracy.
Sonia Aoube, 29, of Lynn, charged with conspiracy. Her bail was set at $500.
Anny Cruz, 31, of Manchester, N.H., charged with misleading an investigator and conspiracy.
In addition, police are seeking four others, including a New Hampshire man and three New York men.
Many of the defendants were released yesterday after posting bail in their cases and were given various dates to return to court in February and March.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.