County Judges Share Blame for Gang and Drug Issues [OPINION]
It's refreshing to see and hear federal officials taking a serious interest in the longstanding crime and violence that has plagued New Bedford for years. Gangs with a direct interest in the drug trade have preyed upon a region only too willing to invite them in. As long as the gangs have delivered the drugs to market, too many in the community have been willing to overlook the violence. No longer.
With the assistance of Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, the FBI has delivered a crippling blow to the devious street gang the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens. The Latin Kings have been key players in the delivery of deadly fentanyl to our streets and the veins of too many of our young people. The tide is turning as the toll mounts and the tolerance for the gangs and their brand of violence has waned. The people demanded action and the feds have delivered.
The New Bedford Police Department and the county prosecutors have done their best to investigate and apprehend the offenders associated with the gang violence and drug trade, only to have lenient and sympathetic county judges repeatedly pass them through a twisted revolving door of justice and return them to the streets to offend once more. Those arrested as part of Operation Throne Down won't be so lucky as the feds play by different rules.
According to the Boston Herald, in announcing the action against the Latin Kings last week, Lelling criticized the county judges: "Through repeated leniency, access to large amounts of cash generated by the lucrative drug trade that the Latin Kings controls in New Bedford and a demonstrated pattern of intimidating those who provide information to law enforcement, the New Bedford Latin Kings Chapter has been able to foster a palpable climate of fear."
The politically appointed judges who sit at the county level have long been a source of frustration for local officials as it has been near impossible to keep the violent offenders off the streets. Lelling appears interested in breaking that trend, and that is welcome news to the long-suffering folks who inhabit the neighborhoods that have been infested by this filth.
The New Bedford City Council must now step up and give the Mitchell Administration the authority it has sought to make life more difficult for the slumlords who continue to make it easy for gang members to peddle their deadly wares.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.