A drugs kingpin from Lynn, Mass. pleaded guilty Tuesday to flooding the North Shore area with hundreds and thousands of fentanyl pills over a three-year period.
According to court filings, Vincent “Fatz” Caruso laundered at least some of his ill-gotten gains through the sportsbook at the Brook Casino in Seabrook, NH. He made regular trips to the casino with his co-defendant and mother, Laurie Caruso, federal prosecutors said.
Caruso is accused of heading up a drug network that manufactured and distributed fentanyl disguised as Percocet pills. These sold on the street for $10 to $12 each. His network of runners and distributors, which included his own mother, also dealt cocaine and marijuana.
The alleged gangster pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute drugs, conspiracy to use firearms in a drug offense, using or carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime, conspiracy to commit robbery, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Caruso’s operation had links to local street gangs the Tiny Rascal Gang and the Little Crip Gangsters. He bragged online about owning six pill presses, including one machine that could produce 15,000 fentanyl pills an hour.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that’s cheaper and more powerful than heroin. According to the Massachusetts Department of Health, there were 1,895 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2020, where a toxicology screen was also available. Of these, 92 percent were linked to fentanyl.
The potential for overdosing on the drug is high because a deadly dose can be as little as 2 milligrams.
Washing in the Brook
Investigators obtained records from The Brook Casino. They found that Caruso, his mother, and another codefendant, Nicole Benton, had been betting big at its sports book using Benton’s VIP card.
According to FBI investigators, the Carusos and Benton were careful to wager amounts below $10,000. This is the threshold at which a casino must file a currency transaction report (CTR) with financial authorities. They favored accumulator bets featuring favorites, because these offered high returns on relatively low stakes when one came in.
Between February and June 2021, the trio placed 150 bets in cash totaling more than $400,000. They lost approximately $20,000 during that period. But this meant they were able to covert $380,000 in allegedly dirty money into “legitimate” casino winnings.
Another defendant in the case is Ernest Johnson, known to his friends and social media followers as “Yo Pesci” or “Mr Live, Mr Drive.” Johnson has become something of a “gangster influencer” on social media for detailing his involvement in shootings, beatings, and drug trafficking.
The video that launched Johnson’s internet celebrity went viral because he was shot at while filming himself in his car.
Caruso has prior arrests for firearms, home invasion, robbery, assault, and drug offenses. He is closely connected to a rap outfit called Epic Nation the Label and was recently sentenced to 15 days in jail for breaking into a property to shoot a music video with the group.
He faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced June 30
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