While Boston Murders Were Up In 2016, Authorities Tout Drop In Overall Crime

Download Audio

There have been 47 homicides in Boston in 2016. That's nine more than the 38 recorded in 2015.

While the number of murders is up in the city, overall crime was down in 2016.

Boston's first homicide of 2016 came 10 days into the new year. The victim was a 16-year-old who'd been shot and hacked with a machete on an East Boston street. He was the third teenager murdered in that neighborhood in just four months.

A federal indictment less than a month later alleged all three teens were killed as part of initiation rites for the MS-13 street gang. Suspects in the murders were arrested during a coordinated sweep of parts of East Boston, Chelsea, Everett and Somerville and are awaiting trial.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said his department has been targeting gang activity with a focus on violent offenders.

"Our No. 1 priority is taking guns off the street and taking the violence out of our communities," Evans told reporters at a recent press conference about "Operation Wolfgang," a joint investigation by federal, state and local authorities that led to the arrest of more than three dozen men and women.

The effort, Evans said, seized drugs, guns and cash. Those arrested were allegedly part of a drug dealing ring in Jamaica Plain called the Mozart Street Gang.

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said at the same press conference that the arrests will save lives.

"Traffickers like these, not only do they rob, shoot and even kill their business rivals and innocents who get caught in the crossfire, they're responsible for the overdoses that claim three times more lives in Massachusetts than handguns and motor vehicles combined," Conley said.

Authorities also said the arrests will make a dent in the heroin supply.

"Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, claiming the lives of 46 people every day," Harold "Hank" Shaw, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, told reporters in the same press briefing. "It's not just a public health crisis, but a public safety problem."

Police commanders said the focus Boston police is placing on violent offenders is paying off. Overall crime, including overall violent crime, is down in the city this year. And, while the number of homicides is up from 2015, that was the year Boston recorded a 10-year low in its murder rate.

This segment aired on December 30, 2016.

Delores Handy Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.



More from Morning Edition

Listen Live