MIL-OSI Security: Violent Machinegun-Wielding Drug Trafficker from North Shore Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

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Source: United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

BOSTON – A leader of one of the largest and most violent criminal street gangs in the country was sentenced yesterday for leading a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy across the North Shore and into Maine. In furtherance of the conspiracy, the defendant participated in six shootings as well as acquired over 40 firearms and multiple “selector switches” for himself and fellow gang members. The defendant was also held accountable for his role in a seventh shooting that resulted in a murder.

Armani Minier-Tejada, a/k/a “Shotz,” a/k/a “Gustavo,” 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to 40 years in prison and five years of supervised release. In June 2023, Minier-Tejada was convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, cocaine and other controlled substances; one count of conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during and in relation to, and possess a firearm in furtherance of, a drug trafficking crime; and one count of use and carrying, brandishing and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of, a drug trafficking crime.

Photo of a hand above a large sum of rubber banded money and a gun, with the word Motivationfor y’all typed across the image.

The investigation began in 2020 in direct response to an increasing number of shootings in communities north of Boston committed by street gangs whose violence is fueled by drug distribution.

Minier-Tejada was a member and leader of a street gang known as the Tiny Rascal Gangsters (TRG), one of the largest and most violent criminal street gangs in the country that operates on a decentralized structure via local groups or “sets.” TRG is involved in street-level distribution of powdered cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine and members are known for their involvement in gun violence.

Minier-Tejada and his co-conspirators, including members of the Lynn set of TRG, participated in a long-running conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess large quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine in Boston, the North Shore and the Bangor, Maine area. Minier-Tejada served as the supplier for multiple large-scale drug dealers in Maine and, in total, he and his co-conspirators were responsible for trafficking more than 10 kilograms each of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine from Massachusetts into Maine. Minier-Tejada and his co-conspirators produced numerous videos and images in which they were depicted brandishing and holding firearms, including multiple machine guns – that is, pistols equipped with “selector switches” rendering them capable of fully automatic fire. Additionally, the drug conspiracy of which Minier-Tejada was a leader acquired over 40 firearms and multiple “selector switches” for use by TRG members during the drug trafficking conspiracy. “Selector switches,” are aftermarket parts that convert a semi-automatic firearm into a machine gun, capable of fully automatic fire.

At sentencing, the government established that in 2019 and 2020, Minier-Tejada and co-conspirators, including TRG gang members, Marcus Carlisle, a/k/a “Reckless,” and Jaiir Coleman, a/k/a “JC,” committed six shootings in Boston and surrounding communities in furtherance of the drug conspiracy. At trial, the government introduced evidence concerning one of the shootings, taking place in Cambridge in July 2020, which was in response to a video being live-streamed from a parking lot accusing Minier-Tejada and Coleman of cooperating with law enforcement. Minier-Tejada and Coleman travelled to the streaming location with two firearms – including a machine gun – and together fired at least 30 rounds into a large crowd of people gathered in the parking lot. At sentencing, Minier-Tejada was also held responsible for a seventh shooting that took place in Lynn, during the course of the drug conspiracy in July 2020, that was committed by fellow TRG members. This seventh shooting resulted in the death of one victim and injuries to four others.

A photo of drugs and a photo of two men firing guns in a wooded area.

In April 2023, Carlisle and Berberena were convicted in Essex County Superior Court of First-Degree Murder and multiple counts of Armed Assault with Intent to Murder for the July 4, 2020, shooting. Both were sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole, to be followed by a total of 40 years in prison consecutive to the life sentence. The case against Carlisle and Berberena was prosecuted by the Essex County District Attorney’s Office.

Minier-Tejeda is the 18th federal defendant to be sentenced in this case. Over the past three years, the investigation has resulted in the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of multiple drug traffickers and violent offenders in the greater Boston area, including: Vincent Caruso, a/k/a “Fatz,” who was sentenced to 250 months in federal prison; his mother Laurie Caruso and co-conspirator; Ernest Johnson, a/k/a “Yo Pesci,” who were sentenced to 108 and 78 months in federal prison, respectively; Malden-based drug trafficker and participant in a shooting of a vehicle that contained a young child, Phillips Charles, a/k/a “Phon C,” who was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison; TRG leader David Oth, a/k/a “Baby Bouncer,” who was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison; and Ahsan Arty, a/k/a “Hass,” a member of a violent drug and gun conspiracy was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison. Coleman pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy in February 2022, and is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Boston on Feb. 8, 2024.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; James M. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Boston Field Division; Cambridge Police Commissioner Christine Elow; and Rick Desjardins, Director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency made the announcement today. Valuable assistance in the investigation was provided by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine; Maine State Police; Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices; Essex and Hancock (Maine) County Sheriff’s Department; and the Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Salem, Somerville, Bangor (Maine), Portland (Maine) and Westbrook (Maine) Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Mallard and Kaitlin R. O’Donnell of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit prosecuted the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found athttps://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

MIL Security OSI