MS-13’s East Coast Leader Gets More than 19 Years in Prison

MS-13’s East Coast Leader Gets More than 19 Years in Prison

The leader of the MS-13 East Coast Program was sentenced July 18 in federal court in Boston for racketeering conspiracy.

Jose Adan Martinez Castro, a/k/a “Chucky,” 29, a Salvadoran national formerly residing in Richmond, Va., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 235 months in prison, the top of the sentencing range recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Castro will be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence. In November 2017, Castro pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy.

After a multi-year investigation, Castro was one of dozens of leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 named in a superseding indictment unsealed in January 2016 that targeted MS-13’s criminal activities in Massachusetts. According to court documents, MS-13 members engaged in a variety of racketeering acts and crimes of violence, including six different murders committed by MS-13 members in Massachusetts between October 2014 and January 2016.

Castro was one of 49 defendants to be convicted as part of this case. All nine defendants who went to trial were convicted and 40 others pleaded guilty.

During the investigation, Castro was identified as the leader of MS-13’s East Coast Program. Most of the cliques in Massachusetts fall under the East Coast Program, which also has cliques in Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio.

On Dec. 13, 2015, using a cooperating witness, law enforcement recorded a meeting of the East Coast Program leadership at Castro’s home in Richmond. The recorded meeting provided evidence about the organizational structure, leadership structure, and recruitment system of MS-13 as well as the means, methods, objectives, and operating principles of the gang.  Leaders of the East Coast Program cliques from Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia attended the meeting.

During the meeting, Castro and others discussed how there was enough space in the East Coast Program for the all of the assembled MS-13 cliques to work cooperatively. Castro and others also discussed the need for the cliques to be better at planning and coordinating hits (i.e., murders) and Castro confirmed that murders generally had to be approved by MS-13 leaders before the local members could carry them out. The group also discussed sending money to El Salvador to support MS-13, the need to work together to increase the gang’s strength and control, and the need to kill anyone who provided information against the gang. An El Salvadoran-based leader of MS-13 also participated in the meeting via the phone and provided direction to the assembled leaders.

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Police Briefs 11-30-2017

Police Briefs 11-30-2017

Chelsea and Everett police drug control detectives executed simultaneous warrants at two Chelsea addresses this morning that resulted in multiple arrests and  a sizable seizures of heroin, cocaine and US currency.  Everett and Chelsea investigators had developed information that the two locations, 262 Maple Street and 79 Garland Street Apt#2 were covertly working together to funnel drugs into both Chelsea and Everett.

Police report that some of the six  taken into custody had  multiple identifications making it difficult to ascertain their true identities. That aspect of the investigation is on going.

The arrested individual’s will face charges in both Chelsea and Malden District Courts.

Chelsea Police remind the community they can report crimes or suspicious activity anonymously in various formats. Citizens can call the 24 hr “tips” line at 617-466-4880, email reports directly from the departments website at or download for free the MYPD App that is compatible with both Android and Apple  smart phones. All three ways are monitored and totally anonymous.

Leader of MS-13 East Coast program pleads guilty

Defendant was recorded presiding over meeting of East Coast Program

Record Staff Report

The leader of the MS-13 East Coast Program pleaded guilty Nov. 27 in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy.

Jose Adan Martinez Castro, a/k/a “Chucky,” 28, a Salvadoran national formerly residing in Richmond, Va., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.

U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Feb. 26, 2018.

After a three-year investigation, Castro was one of 61 persons named in a superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts.

MS-13 leaders incarcerated in El Salvador oversee individual branches, or “cliques,” that are grouped into “programs” throughout the United States. During the investigation, Castro was identified as the leader of MS-13’s East Coast Program. On Dec. 13, 2015, Castro was recorded as he ran a meeting of East Coast Program clique leaders in Richmond, Va. During the meeting, Castro and others discussed sending money to El Salvador to support MS-13, the need to work together to increase the gang’s strength and control, and the need to violently retaliate against anyone who provided information against the gang.

Castro is the 25th defendant to be convicted.

Castro faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of his sentence.

State Trooper nabs two men with firearm, crack cocaine

Record Staff Report

A motor vehicle stop by an alert Massachusetts State Trooper last week on the Parkway resulted in the seizure of an illegally possessed gun, more than 100 rounds of illegally possessed ammunition, and illegal narcotics.

On the morning of November 21, Trooper Joseph Barteaux was patrolling Route 16 westbound in Chelsea when he observed a black Nissan Altima being operated in violation of motor vehicle laws and observed it almost strike another vehicle while abruptly changing lanes.

The vehicle, occupied by two brothers, pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot. Trooper Barteaux followed it into the lot and conducted a motor vehicle stop. Upon questioning, the driver, 22, stated he and his brother were coming from his girlfriend’s house in Lynn and were returning to their home in Randolph. The driver, however, could not name the street his girlfriend lived on.

After making further observations of both men being uncooperative and appearing nervous, Trooper Barteaux asked both men to exit the car. The 24-year-old passenger walked with an apparent limp and dragged his right leg. When asked, he denied being injured. Based on the Trooper’s training and experience, he believed the passenger was concealing something in his clothing and was walking strangely to hold it in place.

Despite the suspect’s attempt to resist the search, the Trooper located a cylinder concealed in the suspect’s pants. Trooper James Maloney arrived on scene and assisted Trooper Barteaux in controlling the suspect. The suspect became upset and attempted to break free, twisting his body with his elbows raised and striking the Troopers in the process. The Troopers physically placed the suspect on the ground. Trooper Barteaux drew his department-issued electronic control weapon and ordered the suspect to cease resisting; the suspect then complied with the Troopers’ orders, the weapon was not fired, and the suspect was taken into custody.

Trooper Barteaux then unscrewed the top of the cylinder the suspect had been concealing and observed inside it a large plastic bag containing a white rock substance believed to be crack cocaine.

Trooper Barteaux returned to the front driver side of the Altima and observed, in a compartment in the open front door, a black ski mask. The Trooper also noticed that a plastic panel behind the front right passenger seat was loose, exposing a void inside the seat. Knowing from his training and experience that a void like that is a common hiding place for illegal contraband, Trooper Barteaux reached into it and retrieved a plastic bag containing 116 nine-millimeter rounds of ammunition and a black and silver Smith & Wesson 9mm firearm. Trooper Maloney additionally located a large roll of duct tape.

The suspects were transported to the State Police Barracks in Revere. There, during a search of the passenger’s person, Troopers located several additional bags containing a white rock substance believed to be cocaine, a brown powder believed to be heroin, and 21 purple pills believed to be Class B oxycodone. More than $1,000 cash, believed to be the proceeds from drug transactions, was also found in the passenger’s possession.

The driver was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and making an unsafe lane change. His brother and passenger was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, possession of a Class A substance with intent to distribute, possession of a Class B substance with intent to distribute, trafficking a Class B substance over 18 grams, and assault and battery on a police officer. The brothers were subsequently arraigned in Chelsea District Court.

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Chelsea Native Joe Smith Receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Chelsea native Joe Smith celebrated his 88th birthday this week but there is a professional milestone to be celebrated as well.

Smith has received one of those incredible honors that only go to the well accomplished and the famous: a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce unveiled Smith’s star at a special ceremony attended by singers Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne.

During a legendary career that spanned four decades as a music executive, Smith led three major record companies: Warner Brothers, Elektra/Asylum, and Capitol.

Interestingly, Smith’s “star” was enshrined in front of the Capitol Records Building on North Vine Street.

Smith was humbled by the recognition that he enjoyed with friends and family, but he jested, “It’s a kick. I make my family go everyday and look at the star and report back to me.” Following the ceremony, Smith hosted a gathering at a country club.

Smith was president of the Chelsea High School Class of 1945. He has fond memories of his days in the city. “Chelsea was a great city and it still is,” said Smith. “I remember Choc Glazer and Nate Finklestein and a lot of other classmates. We were all pals.”

Following his service in the United States Army, Smith received his degree in Political Science and English from Yale University.

“I finished Yale and I decided I wanted to be a disc jockey. I was a DJ in Pittsburgh and Virginia and then I came back and I was a DJ in Boston for seven years. I was the first guy who played real rock and roll on Boston radio, WMEX-AM. I was on WHDH and WBZ Radio, too.”

He did local promotions for a record distributor before being hired by Warner Brothers Records to be the national promotions person.

“I got the offer to move out to the West Coast and my wife loved that because she was from the West Coast. So we moved out here with our two young children and I’ve been in California for a long time and I’ve made a lot of friends, made a lot of money, and had a really good career.”

Smith worked with and guided the careers of some of the greatest entertainers in the music industry. “From the Grateful Dead to Frank Sinatra and everything in between,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with Frank over the years. I went on the road and traveled overseas with him. You had to do a little hand holding with Frank because you never knew when he would blow up. He was the most interesting man I had ever met or worked with and he had this incredible talent.”

Smith recalled one trip with Sinatra for a show in Sao Paolo, Brazil. “There were 30,000 people there and Frank walks up on stage and he was in charge right away. The word for Frank was ‘swagger.’’’

Smith also had regular interactions with such enormous acts as the Beatles, Neil Young, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Linda Rondstadt, and Fleetwood Mac.

“One of my best friends was Tony Bennett,” said Smith. “He’s a true legend. I enjoyed spending time with him. He’s still going strong.”

He fondly recalls being the emcee at a dinner in New York City where the Beatles’ John Lennon was a guest. “He’s the one who turned me on to Jimi Hendrix. We were at a club in London one night and it was about two in the morning and John said to me, ‘Hey, Yank, you want to hear a great guitar player,’ and we took limousines to a small club and there was Jimi.”

Smith later signed Lennon to a solo record contract.

In addition to his talents as a record executive, Smith was highly regarded for his skills as a master of ceremonies, emceeing many dinners and galas in Hollywood.

He has also appeared in three movies, one with Paul Simon. “All together, I was on screen for about 11 minutes.”

As a celebrity himself, Smith has often found himself in the company of other giants in media and politics, including former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, and television host and producer Dick Clark.

Looking back at his illustrious career, Smith said it was Chelsea that gave him the foundation to aspire for greatness.

“Chelsea was a tight-knit city back then,” said Smith. “We had so many people in so little space that you were all in to each other and you had a very close bond with your friends. I moved away from Chelsea and used to come back to visit my mother and dad when they were still alive.

“I’d hang out in Bellingham Square and Tony’s used to be a place to eat. I’ve gone to every Chelsea class reunion. I still keep in touch with people. I love Chelsea but California is the best place to live. I’ve been living here for almost 60 years now.”

Joe Smith (center) is pictured at his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.

Joe Smith (center) is pictured at his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.

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Behind the Scenes:A Day When Racing Returned at Suffolk Downs

By Joe Prezioso

Empty barns and buildings line the back lot of Suffolk Downs.

Birds and bees have made their nests and hives; and plants grow where horses once trained.

Some buildings look like they haven’t been used in a long time, some might have been, but not last weekend.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, there was life where there hasn’t been any for a while.

It was rainy and cold and Friday morning as trainers, owners and jockeys prepared for the big day of racing the next day, Oct. 3.

The barns were damp and workers like Moises Sanchez were hard at work getting ready for Saturday’s race.

Racing returned to Suffolk Downs for a second time this year.

The barns that were only home to the birds and bees are now full of hay and Thoroughbreds that are waiting to run. Owners brought their horses from up and down the East Coast to return to racing at the historic Suffolk Downs.

“I am always excited to be home,” said Jay Bernardini as he pet Navy Nurse, a celebrated Thoroughbred.

A horse owner and trainer, Bernardini brought nine horses to Suffolk from his stalls at Laurel Park Racetrack in Maryland.

“I am a Lynn resident. My wife and son actually stay behind and I kinda co-habitat in Maryland and fly back and forth,” he said. “I have been racing here my whole career. When they are not racing here, I go somewhere else. I am a full time trainer, so I have no option but to leave my family and go somewhere else. Where there’s racing is where I’ll be.”

Hellen Honsdottir and Moises Sanchez were on site at 6 a.m. last Friday to prep the horses for Saturday’s racing. Giving the horses fresh food, fresh hay, washing them down and making them look good. Some horses had their shoes replaced and others just went round and round the barns getting some exercise with the hot walkers.

Honsdottir was excited to be back at Suffolk.

She started working with horses just over two years ago while the track was still open. When she got the chance to be back here for three days, she jumped at the chance. Unlike many of the other groomers, trainers and hot walkers, Honsdottir has not migrated to another track and took work in Waltham at a stable, but she would rather be working with racehorses.

The owners greeted their horses, talked to them and embraced them Friday morning. Like spoiled dogs, these horses have it good.

The racing day also brought back local employees that haven’t been out on the track since the last racing day in September.

“I thought it was very encouraging. It was like you can’t kill the place. Open the doors and people will come,” said Outrider Cathy Chumbley in regards to the last racing day in September.

Most of the owners and crews know each other and share a camaraderie that is not seen in other workplaces. Everyone does everything; owners train and groom their own horses and then possibly for someone else.

The lure of a day of racing even brought back Wayne Marcoux, a trainer and a owner who had no current horses on site.

A Revere resident, he came down just to help.

“My father was a trainer,” said Marcoux. “I took out my trainer’s license and came down to help out.”

Not everyone can just walk on over though for a day of racing.

Owners like Bernardini, who came from Maryland, had to drive many hours.

“We have known about these races for 30 days, so all the prep work is down. We left at exactly 11 p.m. (Thursday) and we got over the George Washington Bridge (NYC) at 3 a.m.”

However, once they arrived at Suffolk they realized they had left the bridles back in Maryland and had to get someone on an airplane flight right away to get them. Such is the challenge of a one-day, ship in racing card.

Bernardini said that what his horses need now is “rest and relaxation.”

With the racing on Oct. 3, there will be one more day of racing on Oct. 31. Many people want to get more racing at Suffolk, but it’s an uphill battle. “Suffolk Downs in not interested in opening up and losing money,” said Bernardini. “There are

Abel Mendoza grooms ‘lu lu la la.’

Abel Mendoza grooms ‘lu lu la la.’

other people trying to force racing where there is none and I don’t think that’s a realistic thing. It has to be a two-way street. The racetrack has to be able to be viable and feasible financially and offer a product that is feasible for me. I have to be able to make a living.”

Where racing in Massachusetts will end up is anyone’s gamble right now, but for the past weekend, the horses and their teams were back at the historic oval.

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Ambrosino to Convene Stakeholders on Chelsea Street Bridge Delays

Fewer things are more frustrating for Chelsea drivers than seeing the gates go down on the Chelsea Street Bridge.

Were it a few minutes of idle time, folks might tolerate it.

However, one could have a five-course picnic on the side of the road, clean up the mess, and get back in the car within the time it takes the $185 million vertical lift bridge to go all the way up, allow marine vessels to pass under and then come back down.

Consequently, rather than waiting, most drivers make quick U-turns and head to alternative routes. Those that wait it out, are most certainly late to work or to airline flights – and to add to the misery – many times the bridge goes up at the most inopportune times, such as morning and evening rush hours.

From Chelsea to Eastie to MassPort and even far-flung territories like West Revere, people are speaking out against the inconvenience of the relatively new state-owned bridge that serves only to accommodate vessels going to three large oil companies – Gulf, Irving and Global.

This week, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he plans to to convene a meeting of stakeholders on the inconvenience of the bridge.

“In conversations with MassPort, I have committed to convening a meeting of stakeholders to talk about the operations of the bridge,” he said this week. “I’m looking to try to convene for that in September or October. We want to talk specifics of the operations of that bridge.”

Ambrosino said the movement on the frustrating issue came when MassPort indicated the airlines at Logan were growing very angry about how the bridge was delaying the arrival of employees. Most airline workers park at the MassPort Garage in Chelsea and then take buses to Logan that utilize the Chelsea Street Bridge. When the bridge is up, the employees are not able to get to work on time in large numbers.

“I think MassPort is concerned about the timing,” he said. “The airlines have been complaining that their employees cannot get to work.”

But they’re not the only ones complaining.

Roseanne Bongiovanni of the Chelsea Collaborative said she has heard of some people taking the bus to Revere to avoid the bridge.

“Yes, there are definitely concerns and complaints from Chelsea residents about the length of time it takes for the bridge to ‘open and close,’” she said. “Some have told me that they take the bus into Revere to get onto the train there rather than trying to cross the bridge during rush hour traffic to commute into work.”

Eastie Sen. Anthony Petruccelli said earlier this summer that he is pursuing the idea of putting some restrictions on the times when the bridge can go up. He said he would hope that such restrictions could at least cover morning and evening rush hours.

“I’ve heard the complaints,” he said. “We are trying to get to the bottom of the problem. We have had some calls that the bridge is being opened too often during morning the rush hour commute. My office has been working with MassDOT but as of right now there are no regulations that prohibit the bridge from opening and closing during any time of the day.”

Petruccelli said he and his office have researched bridge operations elsewhere that do have opening restrictions placed on them and these restrictions are imposed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

“My office is looking at a bridge we found in Fall River that has restrictions similar to what we want to have here,” said Petruccelli. “However, there will always be allowances granted for opening, even with restrictions.”

The issue was first brought to MassDOT’s attention by Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina back in February. In a letter to MassDOT Acting Secretary Frank DePaola, LaMattina expressed his concerns about significant traffic delays that the residents and business owners have been experiencing with the new Chelsea Street Bridge.

“When the new bridge was completed recently the community was informed that traffic delays associated with the new structure would not be longer in comparison to those of the old bascule bridge it replaced,” wrote LaMattina. “However that does not seem to be the case from direct observation of the new bridge’s opening cycles due to a number of factors, some of which appear to be maritime related and others the result of MassDOT bridge procedures.”

While LaMattina said he understands that the installation of a new, complex structure such as the Chelsea Street bridge requires a suitable break-in period to implement new procedures and equipment, he believes that an adequate break-in period has passed for the new bridge and that MassDOT should take whatever steps are necessary to reduce the current unacceptable level of delays from the new Chelsea Street Bridge as soon as feasible.

John Vitagliano, who was a community relations outreach specialist for the bridge during its construction, said he has noted tremendous concerns and will be working with Ambrosino on the solutions.

“There definitely are a lot of concerns from a lot of people,” he said. “We’re just starting to go down this road now in Chelsea and the City of Boston. There are solutions that are out there and the current situation is not something that can continue…I don’t know if vessel restrictions are applicable to this bridge. We’re just starting to think about that. We’ll look at it and see what restrictions would make sense. We just don’t know yet. We do have precedent though with the Fore River Bridge in Quincy for rush hour restrictions. They have restrictions on some vessels, but not all vessels.”

Three key problems, Vitagliano said, are that the bridge has a much more complex operating system that takes longer to cycle through, the bridge is much wider and it takes longer to get people off of the span, and there are more restrictive safety requirements put in place before the bridge can be raised. Those safety requirements come as a result of the tragic killing of a woman on the McArdle Bridge last year as it raised while she was still walking on it.

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