Welfare Queen Crack Ring Busted
Your tax dollars at work (double entendre intended).
The police say that Joanna “Rosa” Gonzalez, a 28-year-old mother of two in Wanskuck, was employing dozens of people including her mother, her sister, their boyfriends, and their children in a crack-cocaine enterprise that covered the city from the North End to the West Side.
The operation was run as efficiently as if Gonzalez had taken a page out of a business-management textbook — so lucrative, the police said, that she and several other welfare recipients working for her drove expensive luxury cars and made thousands of dollars. It was a family business, said Lt. Thomas Verdi, head of the Providence police narcotics unit, where even the young children were involved as lookouts and drug runners with drugs stashed in their backpacks for delivery.
But the business closed last week, when the police locked up 17 people, charging Gonzalez, her family and other alleged top managers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. The Providence police and Drug Enforcement Agency announced the outcome of “Operation Rosa” yesterday.
Gonzalez, who is 8½ months pregnant, is being held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions, along with her alleged drug supplier, “enforcer,” “banker,” “managers” and “distributors,” said Assistant Attorney General Bethany Macktaz. Her two children, ages 9 and 12, are now in the custody of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. “It’s just sickening,” Verdi said yesterday. “[Gonzalez] was pretty much grooming them to do what she does.”
The police searched five residences and four bank accounts, seizing $52,000 and a loaded .32-caliber pistol that was stolen.
They also seized vehicles worth a total of $300,000 that were owned by some of the drug operators claiming welfare checks, according to Providence Detective Sgt. Patrick McNulty.
That included Gonzalez, who had a Porsche, 2002 Kawasaki motorcycle and Nissan Maxima, McNulty said. Her alleged “banker,” Virgen Chadheen, 40, who the police said was on welfare, had a Cadillac Escalade. Her alleged “supplier,” John Delarosa, 33, whose wife receives state assistance, had a Mazda MPV and a Mercedes S550. And police said welfare recipient Henry Grullon, 36, an alleged business “associate” and boyfriend of Gonzalez’s sister, owned a Lincoln Navigator, BMW 745i, Suzuki and Honda motorcycles — and a rundown Dodge minivan.