PROVIDENCE – The man at the center of what police said was the largest raid in state history was released on home confinement this week after a judge deemed that a wiretap of his phone was not signed by the proper authority.
Deric McGuire, 33, of 210 Central St., was arrested last May after a year-long investigation by state police that led to seizure of an impressive collection of guns and narcotics.
McGuire was one of 49 suspects arrested in the raid, which included nine people from Burrillville, and was among several released this week after being held for more than a year.
On Wednesday, July 17, Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel suppressed the wiretap investigators used on McGuire’s phones.
According to state police at the time of the arrests, McGuire, who was known as “Tuna,” was the president of the Rhode Island chapter of the Pagan motorcycle club. In an effort dubbed Operation Patched Out, police conducted 29 raids in towns in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts, targeting The Pagans as well as an additional biker gang based in Woonsocket known as the Kryptmen.
Police said members were involved in gun and drug trafficking, and other criminal activity.
More than 150 law enforcement officers, including members of the Rhode Island State Police, fanned out before 4 a.m. on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 for a series of coordinated, simultaneous raids of each of the locations. Items seized included 53 illegal guns, pounds of marijuana, cocaine and heroin, as well as a rocket launcher.
During the investigation the previous year, police had reportedly wiretapped at least seven different telephones belonging to McGuire. He is facing more than 220 narcotics and weapons charges.
But a lawyer for one of the defendants challenged the validity of the wiretap warrants, noting that state law specifies that only Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice Gibney or the most-senior Superior Court judge, in this case Robert Krause, can sign a wiretap warrant in her absence.
Instead, Superior Court Judge Melanie Thunberg had signed off on many of the warrants, according to a report this week in The Providence Journal.
Lawyer John Cicilline, who represents Yevgeniy Mazo, of North Providence, argued that although Gibney asked Thunberg to handle the warrants while she was away on leave, only Krause was authorized to sign the documents. Lawyers representing other defendants in the case joined in the motion.
Vogel agreed, suppressing the wiretaps and concluding that under state law only the Superior Court’s presiding justice or the next-senior Superior Court judge can authorize such interceptions.
McGuire was released on home confinement the same day after being held without bail for more than a year.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office has reportedly said that the state plans to appeal the decision.