SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Five members of a violent criminal enterprise were arrested and charged in connection with a drug trafficking conspiracy on Thursday. The group is known to distribute large amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine throughout western Massachusetts.

According to a news release sent to 22News by the Department of Justice, court documents showed that investigators identified Gonzalez to be the leader of a violent criminal enterprise operating in Hampden County. During the investigation, controlled purchases and intercepted communications between Gonzalez and his co-conspirators revealed that beginning in or about July 2021, the defendants allegedly prepared and trafficked large amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine in the Holyoke and Springfield areas.

The investigation revealed that the enterprise used violence and threats of violence to control Gonzalez’s territory in Holyoke. Court documents allege that in July 2021, Gonzalez, Ocasio, and other co-conspirators attempted a violent armed kidnapping at the enterprise’s drug sale location in Holyoke. During the incident, Gonzalez and Ocasio allegedly pointed firearms at the victim and, after the victim escaped, they chased and attempted to threaten the victim with their firearms.

Twelve firearms, ammunition, approximately 400 grams of cocaine, cocaine base, money, and drug packaging materials were siezed.

The following individuals were arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base:

  • Vicente Gonzalez (41) of Springfield
  • Brigham Ocasio-Rosario (44) of Springfield
  • Willie Watkins (42) of Springfield
  • Miguel Burgos (45) of Holyoke
  • Khristy Guzman (37) of Holyoke

The suspects face up to 20 years in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million. 

“These defendants are alleged to have inundated Western Massachusetts with cocaine and crack cocaine – fueling violence and capitalizing on the devastating opioid and drug crises. Today, thanks to the exceptional work by a multitude of dedicated law enforcement agencies, this violent criminal enterprise has been brought to its knees. Our investigation demonstrates the strength of collaboration among state, local, and federal law enforcement and the invaluable positive impact that work can have on safety in our communities. My office will continue to partner with law enforcement, medical experts and community organizations to reclaim our impacted neighborhoods.”

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins

“Today’s arrests have dismantled a violent criminal enterprise headed by Vincente Gonzalez which we believe is responsible for flooding the streets of western Massachusetts with cocaine and crack cocaine while using firearms, force, and intimidation to protect their turf. This case is just one example of how the FBI’s Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force is working with our law enforcement partners to stop the senseless violence that is a blight on our neighborhoods, and to make them safer places to live and raise a family.”

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division

“I would like to thank the brave and hardworking men and women of the Holyoke Police Department, FBI Gang task Force, ATF, DEA, US Marshals, Massachusetts State Police, and the Hampden County Sheriffs for their dedication to duty and to the citizens of Holyoke. Today’s search warrants will significantly damage the narcotic sales taking place in Holyoke. The criminals that were arrested today along with their operations being grounded to a halt, will have a great impact on the quality of life for Holyoke citizens. The narcotic sales from these locations brought gun violence to our streets, endangered the children of Holyoke and increased the opiate abuse within our City. I am aware there is more hard work to be done but I am confident in the success of Holyoke due to the cooperation between our citizens and law enforcement.”

Holyoke Police Chief David Pratt

“I’d like to thank our federal partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI, our Springfield Police Firearms Investigation Unit and Warrant Apprehension Unit for their work in taking numerous illegal firearms and illicit drugs off the street in both Springfield and Holyoke Thursday morning. By sharing intelligence and having a dedicated Springfield Police Officer in the FBI Task Force we are able to work together across the region to combat senseless gun violence. The results of this Gang Task Force investigation puts a dent in the illegal drug trade across western Massachusetts and sends a clear message to the individuals possessing illegal firearms. We fully support and are thankful for the U.S. Attorney’s Offices’ efforts to address and reduce gun violence in our community.”

Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl C. Clapprood