NBC 10 I-Team: RI trooper helped lead motorcycle gang probe
Rhode Island State Police Lt. Col, Joseph Philbin sat down with the NBC 10 I-Team Thursday, a day after a massive pre-dawn raid on a growing group of notorious motorcycle gangs.
“Four in the morning was early, but I think it's what helped us pull it off safely,” said Philbin.
About 200 heavily armed state troopers and federal agents from the FBI and ATF swept across cities and towns in the northwest part of the state.
The bust netted more than 50 arrests, 53 guns, weapons, and large quantities of marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin, as well as a few other items.
“I think the rocket launcher surprised people,” said Philbin.
Law enforcement raided houses, apartments and the Woonsocket clubhouses of the Kryptmen and Pagan’s motorcycle clubs.
They encountered steel reinforced doors, one about four inches thick. Explosive devices blew it off its hinges.
Police discovered stolen lawn care equipment on top of all the drugs and weapons.
Philbin said officers even found a gun press, which was able to make unmarked firearms in a matter of hours.
“A couple of people we woke up that had a gun right next to them on their night stand and then we had a pretty thorough search of the Kryptmen garage and we found seven handguns shrink wrapped in a bag, tied into the lining of a truck tire,” he added.
The notorious Pagan’s motorcycle gang, based in New Jersey, moved into Woonsocket and a strip mall off Mason Street, said Philbin.
Court ordered wire taps picked up phone conversations and texts between gang members with talks of increasing violence.
The Pagan’s Rhode Island leader is believed to be Deric McGuire. He was arraigned Thursday on 221 counts after his arrest and held without bail.
“The motorcycle gang dominates their life. It controls everything they do, who they can speak to, who they're friends with,” said Philbin.
In March, Rodney Lambert, who is the state leader of the Kryptmen, was arrested on his way to allegedly murder a rival. Police intercepted him.
Lambert sat in the ACI while other gang members were rounded up Wednesday.
In May, a Massachusetts Pagan was shot on Route 95 in Connecticut. He lived, but law enforcement became more concerned with the rising violence they were seeing on the streets and hearing on wire taps.
“The tricky part of these investigations is you don't want to be caught listening to something when it takes place. You want to prevent it from taking place,” added Philbin.
There were no injuries to troopers or federal agents. Not even a gunshot was fired, said state police.
However, a K-9 required medical attention after a Pitbull latched onto its’ leg.
State Police credited their federal partners and members of the attorney general’s team for the successful sweep.