Social Media Led FBI To Drug Operation Worth Millions On North Shore

Four people from the North Shore were arrested Wednesday on drug trafficking and manufacturing charges. One of those charged, Vincent Caruso, (R), and guns that led to firearms charges against one of the defendants (L). Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Federal prosecutors arrested four individuals on drug trafficking and manufacturing charges Wednesday as part of an FBI drug investigation.

Vincent "Fatz" Caruso and Ernest "Yo Pesci" Johnson, both of Salem, were arrested along with Caruso's mother Laurie Caruso, of Lynn, and Nicole Benton of Saugus.

Prosecutors said Caruso owned at least six pill presses used to make prescription pills, one of which he claimed was capable of helping his operation crank out 15,000 pills an hour. Instead of the 30 milligram Percocets the pills appeared to be, the FBI said in a criminal complaint that the pills actually contained fentanyl, a much more dangerous opioid.

The FBI agent in charge of the case said the pills could retail between $10 and $20 each, meaning the entire operation could be worth millions of dollars.

Still photos from Snapchat and other social media accounts were included in the court filing against Caruso and Johnson, including one Snapchat video that the FBI said depicted an entire brick of fentanyl that likely weighed over a pound, and 30,000 counterfeit "Percocet" fentanyl pills.

Prosecutors said Laurie Caruso and Nicole Benton tried to launder money from the drug operation at a New Hampshire casino.

The younger Caruso and Johnson were charged with "conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl," a charge that carries a sentence of up to life in prison and up to a $10 million fine, as well as other drug and firearms charges. The two women charged with money laundering could face 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

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Written by Chaiel Schaffel

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