For Immediate Release: 9/13/2012 8:36 pm
Worcester, MA (September 13, 2012) - On Thursday, September 13, 2012 at approximately 5:00 AM members of the Worcester Police Vice Squad, Worcester Police Gang Unit and the Drug Enforcement Administration along with more than one hundred law enforcement agents representing Federal and State law enforcement agencies executed federal search warrants for multiple locations here in the city and a home in the adjacent town of Millbury. The extensive operation also involved: the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early, U.S. Marshalls Fugitive Task Force, Massachusetts State Police Special Tactical Operations (STOP) Team, Violent Apprehension Team, K-9 Unit, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Worcester County Sheriff’s Department, Worcester Police Department SWAT Team and Worcester Police Department Animal Control.
This operation, code name "Devil’s Handshake" started in early 2010. The operation was led by the Worcester Police Vice Squad and Gang Unit with assistance from the Central Massachusetts High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The investigation led to the developed information about the structure, leadership, members and close associates of a Worcester based drug organization, headed by Sergio Hernandez of 812-A Franklin Street, Worcester. Mr. Hernandez was responsible for operating a large retail crack cocaine distribution ring. During the course of 2011 and 2012, information was obtained through an extensive undercover operation. Additional information obtained in this investigation resulted in a Title III Federal Wiretap.
In the early morning hours, thirteen teams prepared to enter pre-determined locations simultaneously to execute thirteen search warrants with the assistance of the Worcester Police and Massachusetts State Police SWAT teams. Several of the targets have violent criminal histories and all were considered armed and dangerous due to their gang affiliations and regular association with edged weapons and firearms. Dynamic entries were made by SWAT Teams at the following locations: 5 Berkeley Street, 9 Chrome Street and 103 Illinois Street.
Two targets, including the primary target Sergio Hernandez, were located at 5 Berkeley Street. A firearm was also recovered from this location as a result of the raid.
At 14 Jefferson Street, a Worcester Animal Control Officer seized a Pitbull from the apartment in addition to over 300 grams of cocaine that police discovered.
As a result of these raids, the following were placed under arrest:
A fifteenth person was apprehended and arrested in Puerto Rico at the same time that the warrants were being executed here. This individual was arrested for drug possession and drug packaging offenses.
To date, seven of the 15 arrested were for federal offenses. Confiscated today were 5 motor vehicles, 1 motorcycle, a large capacity firearm and $40,000 in cash.
It is expected that these arrests will significantly disrupt the illegal activities of the drug organization. This investigation is still active and ongoing.