Lawrence, Massachusetts has been a gang stronghold for a number of years, and the Dominican street gang there developed a clever strategy to make a lot of money. They robbed other criminals of their drugs and cash and then held the individuals for ransom, often torturing them in the process. It was a lucrative effort, since the targeted criminals and their families were not willing to cooperate with authorities.
The joint efforts of federal law enforcement agencies such as the DEA and the FBI working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies were able to thwart these criminal activities by using a variety of investigative tools. These included conducting controlled drug buys to verify the illicit trade, and the use of confidential sources.
These kidnappings began in 2010, but it took several years for the North Shore Gang Task Force to bring the perpetrators to justice. The gang members who were known as joloparros or stick-up guys targeted high-level drug suppliers with sophisticated methods. These included GPS devices to track the individuals along with surveillance to learn their routes and movements. They also tried to identify stash houses.
When they had enough information, the joloparros would kidnap the victim, duct tape his hands, and cover his head. They then took the victims to safe houses and often tortured them with hot irons before making a ransom demand on the family.
Fortunately, the efforts of the joint task force led to a dramatic decrease in the presence of these kidnapping crews in Lawrence. Approximately 20 individuals have been charged with either kidnapping offenses or crimes associated with the crew.
One key player was Edgar Acevedo who pled guilty to a violent kidnapping in 2012 that involved a $100,000 ransom demand. He received a 16-year prison sentence in March 2015.