Crime is still prevalent in the Mass area. and Cass

Meanwhile, a Boston man was arrested on Wednesday night after he allegedly tried to coerce two plainclothes police officers he believed to be prostitutes on Massachusetts Avenue to work for him, suggesting they offer sex for a fee in a nearby hotel.

“Are y’all doing that pimp [work]Keon Boggs allegedly told plainclothes officers, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Calen Monahan said during Boggs’ arraignment on Thursday.

When officers told Boggs they didn’t know any pimps, he reportedly replied, “You know me now.”

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden called Boggs and Familia “predators of human weakness” who made Mass. and of Cass “their personal playground of chaos and exploitation”.

“They victimize those who have mental health or addictions issues, or homelessness issues, or any number of factors that make them vulnerable,” he said. “And they do it for one reason: to line their pockets with money.”

After his arrest, Boggs told authorities he was living in the homeless shelter at 112 Southampton St., highlighting neighborhood concerns that many people seeking social services and support in the area are the same who commit crimes and prey on vulnerable victims. they called a vicious cycle of violence that has plagued Mass for years. and Cass.

Community leaders reiterated those concerns during a meeting with Boston officials Thursday night and renewed calls for the city to move some services such as shelters and needle exchange programs to other neighborhoods. The only way to solve the pervasive problems in the area, they stressed, is to disrupt the flow of people who flock there – whether for social services or to use drugs or other illegal activities.

“It wasn’t just about taking down the tents. It was about dealing with the open drug market,’ said George Stergios, a member of a task force of community leaders from the South End, Roxbury and Newmarket working on the issues there .

Andrew Brand, another task force member, said he recently passed through the Mass area. and Cass. “There were hundreds of people on the street. It didn’t look much different from last year without the tents.

The concerns illustrate neighbors’ frustration and skepticism over the city’s attempts to eliminate Mass. and Cass as the epicenter of the region’s drug epidemic. Many social service programs are based in the area, including two methadone clinics, two homeless shelters, an engagement center where people can congregate during the day, and two healthcare programs for the homeless. -shelter, where the city’s only brick-and-mortar needle exchange program is located.

In January, the fledgling Wu administration destroyed tent encampments and moved people to transitional housing, which was called the first step in getting people out of tents and the cold and recovering. But neighborhood leaders fear people will return only when warm weather arrives.

Wu’s contact person on Mass. and Cass, Monica Bharel, said cleaning the tents was an urgent first step, due to public health concerns related to cold and unsanitary conditions and for public safety, noting reports of drug trafficking and sex trafficking women in the camps.

More than 185 people have been relocated to safe accommodation, Bharel said.

“These are human beings who are extremely grateful for this new chance to make a fresh start,” she said. “What we were doing before was not working. It didn’t work for the community and it didn’t work for homeless people, and especially those who weren’t sheltered.

Bharel added that city officials are working on longer-term plans to keep people off the streets and transitioning them into housing, while tackling their underlying addictions to drug addiction and disease. mental.

But she stressed at community meetings on Thursday that officials were working to address residents’ concerns about crime, pointing to the arrests of Familia and Boggs, as well as recent arrests for drug trafficking.

Police Lt. Peter Messina, head of the street outreach unit, said Boggs was “an absolute predator in the community, and he was taken off the streets.”

The arrest was part of an operation by Boston and State Police and the FBI to crack down on human trafficking in the area. Police said several men had received court summonses to face related charges of offering to engage in sex for a fee.

John Redding, an attorney for Boggs, told a brief hearing Thursday that Boggs suffered from mental illness and lacked the mental capacity to commit a crime such as sex trafficking. Redding noted that the plainclothes police posed as prostitutes.

“This case is based solely on what the police said a mentally disabled person told them,” he said. Boggs, whose criminal history includes charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, was sentenced to $200 cash bond.

Familia, the other man charged, was given $60,000 bail after prosecutors described a case in which he allegedly kidnapped a woman who tried to buy drugs from him at Downtown Crossing and then allegedly held captive for several months last year, raping her. and forcing her to work as a prostitute in hotels and at Mass and Cass. The woman was able to escape at one point, but in October she told police she had encountered Familia again in the Mass area. and Cass, according to court records.

The woman told police that Familia approached her and said, “I own you for the rest of your life and you can’t run away from me.

John Ellement of Globe staff contributed to this report.

Milton J. Valencia can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia and on Instagram @miltonvalencia617. Nick Stoico can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.

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