2 purported gang members plead to drugs-for-guns deal
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Two men who said they were members of the Latin Kings street gang could face 15 years in federal prison for bringing cocaine to Vermont in exchange for firearms intended for use in a “war” in Boston, if a judge accepts a plea agreement.
If the judge rejects the agreement reached Monday, John Guerrero, 27, and Darwin Medina, 35, both of Boston, could each be sentenced to life in prison on the drug charge and 20 years on the gun charge.
Sentencing is scheduled for February.
Court documents say that between November 2017 and March 2018, the two men traveled between Boston and northwestern Vermont. They would give locals money; the locals would buy firearms from a dealer; and the firearms would then be given to the two men in exchange for drugs, authorities say.
At least five of the weapons were recovered by Boston-area police.
Medina’s lawyer Mark Oettinger said Tuesday that the plea agreement was reached at the last minute.
“It is always good when prosecutors and defense attorneys can reach an agreement,” he said.
Guerrero’s lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.
At least five Vermonters were charged by federal authorities with illegally purchasing about 30 firearms on behalf of Guerrero and Medina and then exchanging them for drugs.
A criminal complaint filed in the case this year said that five of the guns were recovered by police in the Boston area and that some have been matched to shootings in south Boston, but the documents did not provide the details of those shootings.
At least some of the firearms were taken to the Joyce Hayes Way neighborhood of south Boston, where the two men lived.
One of the Vermonters who allegedly bought guns for the two told investigators that “Guerrero told him that he wanted the firearms because ‘there is a war going on in Boston’ and ‘we are gonna win the war,’” according to the documents.
The same Vermonter told investigators Guerrero used a tool to grind the serial numbers off the guns. But the documents say police in Boston were able to restore the serial numbers for some of the guns and determine they were purchased in Vermont.
The plea agreement calls for Medina to be sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. Guerrero’s agreement calls for a sentence of 12 to 15 years.