Claim isn’t wrong, DEA stats back it up

Boston Herald - - NEWS - Hil­lary CHABOT

Lawrence pols bristling over U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions’ slam on the be­nighted Mer­ri­mack Val­ley burg need to face the facts — their city has a drug prob­lem and a lot of it is fu­eled by peo­ple who don’t be­long here.

Just read the most re­cent na­tional drug threat as­sess­ment by the Drug En­force­ment Agency, which points out that drug car­tels from the Do­mini­can Repub­lic have a vise-grip on the city.

“Do­mini­can drug deal­ers in­volved in re­tail dis­tri­bu­tion are mainly sourced by Do­mini­can (transna­tional crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions) based in New York, NY, Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Lawrence, Mas­sachusetts,” wrote DEA of­fi­cials in the 2017 Na­tional Drug Threat As­sess­ment. The an­nual re­port looks at the ori­gins of heroin, co­caine and other drugs sold in the na­tion as well as the car­tels run­ning the mar­ket and sale hot spots. Do­mini­can gangs dom­i­nate re­tail drug sales in the Mer­ri­mack Val­ley, ac­cord­ing to the DEA re­port.

“It’s so well doc­u­mented,” said Sau­gus po­lice of­fi­cer James Scott, who trains cops to un­cover iden­tity thieves, many of whom are il­le­gal im­mi­grants with long drug rap sheets. The pro­gram, which has been used by New Hampshire and Mas­sachusetts of­fi­cials to bust hun­dreds of iden­tity thieves here il­le­gally, has shown a com­mon pat­tern, Scott said.

“A great deal of our im­posters that we’ve iden­ti­fied for years have ad­dresses on their li­censes com­ing from Lawrence,” said Scott.

Ses­sions sin­gled out Lawrence Thurs­day dur­ing a visit to Con­cord, N.H. — ap­plaud­ing fed­eral of­fi­cers for a sweep­ing opioid bust that in­cluded “four il­le­gal aliens re­sid­ing in the sanc­tu­ary city of Lawrence, Mas­sachusetts.”

That has prompted Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera to grand­stand by threat­en­ing a li­bel suit.

Both Ses­sions and Pres­i­dent Trump have slammed Lawrence for its sanc­tu­ary city sta­tus,

Just read the most re­cent na­tional drug threat as­sess­ment by the Drug En­force­ment Agency ... drug car­tels from the Do­mini­can Repub­lic have a vise-grip on the city.

which sharply lim­its lo­cal po­lice from help­ing Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cials de­tain and de­port il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“There can be no sanc­tu­ary for drug deal­ers and fen­tanyl deal­ers in this coun­try,” Ses­sions added.

Trump has called for Congress to strip fed­eral fund­ing from all sanc­tu­ary and Trust Act com­mu­ni­ties, which also in­clude Bos­ton, Northamp­ton, Amherst and Cam­bridge.

Trump and Ses­sions may have over­played their hand by cast­ing all sanc­tu­ary cities as drug dens — DEA re­ports haven’t noted in­creased drug sales in other Bay State sanc­tu­ar­ies like Amherst.

But out­raged pols like Rivera should rec­og­nize the drug prob­lems in his own back­yard and keep his fo­cus on fix­ing it.

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