Member of Lawrence Kidnapping Crew Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison
BOSTON—Calling his crime “heinous” and “dastardly,” a U.S. District Court Judge sentenced a Lawrence man to 16 years in federal prison yesterday for his role in a 2012 kidnapping.
Edgar Acevedo, 34, was sentenced to 16 years in prison and two years of supervised release. In December 2014, Acevedo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Acevedo was part of a kidnapping crew headed by Alfred Vasquez. On Jan. 30, 2012, Vazquez, Acevedo, Alberto Moreno, Julio Gonzalez, and Deborah Torres, all of Lawrence, held a gun to a victim and kidnapped him from a street in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood in Boston. Through Vasquez, the crew demanded a $100,000 ransom for the victim’s release and, joined by William Ayala, held the victim in Lawrence for five days. After federal agents interceded, the victim was rescued, unharmed, in Lawrence. Among other evidence, members of the crew were identified by fingerprint and DNA evidence.
Before imposing sentence, Judge Gorton termed Acevedo’s crime “heinous” and remarked:
“You deserve to be severely punished here because you played an integral role in a sophisticated, well-planned kidnapping that involved the use of violence, firearms and an abduction for at least several days and the demand for and pursuit of a ransom after death threats. This kind of an egregious crime is rightly dealt with harshly in the sentencing guidelines, particularly to deter the commission of such crimes. And because you were part of the conspiracy to carry out this potentially deadly kidnapping, you are deserving of the long sentence you are about to receive. This sentence is intended not only to deter you from ever committing such a crime again but also to deter anyone else, whether engaged in drug trafficking or otherwise, from committing such dastardly crimes.”
This case is part of a two-year investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Massachusetts State Police, the Lawrence Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies into violent kidnapping and home invasion crews operating in Lawrence. According to affidavits and other documents filed in court, the investigation revealed that the majority of these kidnappings were carried out by organized, armed, violent crews often referred to as Joloperros (loosely translated as “Stick-up Guys”). These Joloperros crews typically kidnapped drug dealers for large ransoms, paid in cash and/or drugs; used safe houses to hold their hostages; and sometimes assaulted and burned their victims while they held them captive. These crews also frequently used sophisticated tracking techniques, such as GPS devices, to follow their victims before the abductions, and at times used associates in the Dominican Republic to receive ransom money.
Seven people have pleaded guilty in connection with this kidnapping, including Miguel Nolasco, a relative of the victim who hired Vazquez to commit the kidnapping, Acevedo, Moreno, Gonzale,; Torres, and Ayala. Sentencing hearings for the remaining defendants are scheduled for March and April 2015.
Since the investigation began, more than 20 people have been charged in federal court with kidnapping-related offenses or because they were identified as being associated with members of Lawrence-based kidnapping crews. Including the guilty pleas referenced here, to date, nine people have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping, while four others have pleaded guilty to firearm-related offenses.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Timothy P. Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Chief James Fitzpatrick of the Lawrence Police Department; Commissioner William Evans of the Boston Police Department; Chief Damenic J. DiMella of the Saugus Police Department, made the announcement today. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter K. Levitt, Christopher Pohl, and Timothy E. Moran of Ortiz’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit.