The Rhode Island Police Department just made a record-breaking arrest. After a lengthy investigation, officials apprehended dozens of motorcycle gang members in a federal drug and gun trafficking case. This investigation also led to one of the biggest drug busts in the state’s history. The RIPD promises that more arrests are coming.
A Year-Long Investigation Into Motorcycle Gangs
The investigation began when authorities learned that Rhode Island motorcycle gangs were competing for territory. This led to three shootouts, none of which were reported. “These gangs have been involved in numerous acts of violence, including shooting incidents that put innocent civilians at risk,” explained Lt. Colonel Philbin of the RIPD in a press release.
In the months following, state and federal officers tracked gang members. The two organizations, the Pagans and Kryptmen, have been working to establish chapters in the northwestern part of the state. Specifically, they were located in Woonsocket, North Smithfield, and Burrillville.
Officials have connected these motorcycle gangs to vicious criminal activity ranging from murder to drug trafficking. Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, Colonel Ann C. Assumpico said, “These are violent criminals who belong to some of the most sinister motorcycle gangs in this country.”
Lt. Colonel Philbin led the investigation. He explained, “There is absolutely no question that they represent a clear and present danger to the people of Rhode Island.”
A Massive Take Down
Over 150 state and federal officers worked on this case they named “Operation Patched Out.” The investigation started off with wiretaps, evidence from which lead to a thousand page long affidavit. This is far from the first time that the police use texts to obtain a warrant. In fact, recently in the United Kingdom, officials found evidence on WhatsApp to bust a Welsh drug dealer.
“I ordered my detectives to use whatever means necessary to investigate and eradicate these gangs,” added Colonel Assumpico. On Tuesday, the court issued warrants for 29 locations.
The police began their stakeout before dawn. Many of the locations were fortified, according to the Colonel. Police had to use an armored truck, a battering ram and explosives to breach some locations. No officers were hurt during the arrest.
At various locations, they found massive amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and illegal weaponry. Not only was there abundant evidence of gun and drug trafficking, but the police discovered other stolen materials like snow blowers, tractors, and ATVs. Furthermore, there was proof of bank and mortgage fraud.
The Biggest Takedown In Rhode Island History
Currently, 49 alleged gang members are in custody, awaiting trial. The police even arrested one suspect while he was on route to, allegedly, commit a homicide. According to Lt. Colonel Philbin, the police apprehended him as he sat in his car with a loaded gun, outside his future victim’s home.
There are dozens of more arrests on felony charges to come, according to authorities.
Though the police are still pursuing suspects, officials are lauding “Operation Patched Out” as the biggest takedown in the state’s history.
Among them, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin praised their police work. “As with all good investigations,” he said, “it took patience and tenacity to unravel what is a vast and complex network of drug and gun traffickers in Rhode Island and bordering Massachusetts and Connecticut.”