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Boston authorities focusing on rise in violent, severe crime round ‘Mass and Cass’

Boston authorities expect to make dozens of arrests this summer linked to alleged offenses near Newmarket Square as part of an ongoing effort to tackle a rise in violent crimes and public safety and health concerns around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins recently announced that Boston’s municipal courts issued about 40 arrest warrants for alleged criminal activity in the Newmarket Square area. In a news release Monday, Rollins said the collaborative effort followed weekly meetings between assistant district attorneys on the Crime Strategies Bureau and the Boston Police Department Drug Control Unit.

“Through this focused collaboration between the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Boston Police Department, we have identified a number of individuals who we believed are responsible for driving the violence, profiting off of people’s pain, and causing significant harm to our community,” Rollins said in a statement. “They will be held accountable for the harm they have caused. The issues facing the Newmarket Square community will not be resolved overnight. But the efforts that my office has undertaken in partnership with Boston Police and our community partners are beginning to pay dividends, both long- and short-term.”

The ramp up in arrests comes as substance use disorder, poverty, homelessness and crime in the area known as “Mass and Cass” becomes a focal point in the Boston mayoral race. A Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department forum last week saw the six major candidates debate plans to address the ongoing issue, Politico reported.

Rollins in 2019 established the Crime Strategies Bureau — which streamlines prosecutors’ efforts in her office’s Juvenile, Gang, Narcotics, Human Trafficking and Exploitation, and Crime Intelligence units — to help disrupt and respond to violence, human and drug trafficking and other felonies.

In addition to the latest arrest warrants, Rollins announced that three individuals arrested in the area earlier this year — Jay Candelario, 40, of Lowell, and Dale Clarke, 24, and Robert Lewis, 56, both of Boston — now face a total of 36 indictments on narcotics or firearms felonies in Suffolk Superior Court after prosecutors presented evidence to a Suffolk County grand jury. Arraignment dates have not been scheduled as of Monday.

Authorities say they are focused not only on holding criminals accountable but on ensuring access to community-based services and treatment for those grappling with substance use disorder, mental illness, poverty and homelessness.

“Substance use disorder is a public health crisis that cannot be cured through prosecution,” Rollins said. “Law enforcement is not equipped to address the service needs of those suffering from substance use disorder, mental illness, emotional harm and trauma, and other crises. We need all of our partners in every level of government and public health institutions and leaders across the state to join us in addressing both this public health crisis and the significant harm created by those who prey on the desperation and vulnerability of others.”

The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office has partnered with Boston Municipal Court, Department of Probation and Boston Medical Center to establish the Boston Outpatient Assisted Treatment (BOAT) program, which is funded through grants and provides social, mental health and substance use disorder services to those facing charges in local courts.

Rollins’ office encouraged anyone who witnesses a crime to call 911 and anyone seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one to call the Massachusetts Substance Use Hotline at 1-800-327-5050. The city’s Office of Recovery Services and Public Health Commission’s Boston Neighborhood Trauma Team also provide support services.

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