BOSTON—Seven people have been charged in connection with a violent kidnapping crew based in Lawrence.
Jose Guzman, a/k/a “Cano,” 43; Henry Maldonado, 39; Thomas Wallace, 24; Danny Veloz, a/k/a “Maestro,” a/k/a “Joil Rivera, 36; Luis Reynoso, 23; Gadiel Romero, a/k/a “TC,” 28; and Jose Matos, a/k/a, “Boika,” 42, were charged today with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. According to documents filed with the court, the defendants are members of a Lawrence-based kidnapping crew (Veloz Crew) led by Danny Veloz.
In addition, Christopher Morales, 28, and Melvin Rivera, 25, both of Lawrence, and alleged to be associates of the Veloz Crew, were each charged in a separate indictment today with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The charges allege that the Veloz Crew tracked potential kidnapping victims by attaching GPS tracking devices to the undercarriage of the victims’ cars and tracked their movements via computer. It is alleged that the Veloz Crew pose as police officers when abducting victims at gunpoint on the street. The Veloz Crew allegedly holds its victims for ransom and, in the past, has burned a victim with a hot iron to persuade the victim to pay a ransom. It is further alleged that, on July 23, 2012, the Veloz Crew kidnaped two victims from a street in Lawrence and employed the above tactics in attempting to obtain ransom for their safe return.
U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “The city of Lawrence has experienced a rash of violent kidnappings and home invasions by sophisticated and violent groups that prey upon the vulnerability of their victims. I want the people of Lawrence to know that, together with our state and local partners, we will continue to investigate, target, and dismantle these violent groups.”
“This morning, a sophisticated and violent interstate kidnapping ring was broken up as a result of the hard work of many state, local, and federal agencies,” said Richard Deslauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division. “Communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are safer now than they were hours ago.”
U.S. Attorney Ortiz; SAC DesLauriers; Chief John J. Romero of the Lawrence Police Department; and Essex County District Attorney John Blodgett made the announcement today.
The investigation was conducted by the North Shore Safe Streets Gang Task Force, composed of the FBI, Massachusetts State Police, Lawrence Police, and Middlesex County Sheriff. The New Hampshire Safe Streets Gang Task Force, composed of the FBI, New Hampshire State Police, New Hampshire Department of Corrections, Manchester Police, Hudson Police, and Nashua Police, also assisted. Additional assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Document Benefit Fraud Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Customs and Border Protection.
The cases are being prosecuted by Peter K. Levitt and Christopher Pohl in Ortiz’s Organized Crime Strike Force Unit.
The details contained in the indictments and affidavit are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.