(MA) House fire sheds light on gang weapon cache


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Drizzt
July 10, 2003, 11:31 PM
The Boston Herald

July 5, 2003 Saturday ALL EDITIONS

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 004

LENGTH: 570 words

HEADLINE: House fire sheds light on gang weapon cache

BYLINE: By LAUREL J. SWEET

BODY:
The alleged safe house of a heavily armed Jamaican street gang was toppled by a neglected candle that threatened to set ablaze 300 rounds of ammunition in an otherwise family-friendly Ashmont neighborhood, law enforcement sources said yesterday.

Thursday's midmorning fire at 31 Dracut St. - a duplex pockmarked by drive-by shootings on June 26 and 29 - cost seven people their homes but left frantic neighbors wondering if providence played a hand in driving them out.

"God works in mysterious ways," sighed one neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I've never been so scared in all my life."

Sources said police had been watching the house for the past three months, when an alleged Jamaican gang of between 10 and 15 young persons, who'd previously set up shop on Babson Street in Mattapan and Ballou Avenue in Dorchester, began hanging out in the newly rented second-story apartment, the basement and the yard.

Horrified Dracut Street residents even held an emergency meeting Tuesday night that they said was attended by the new renter, Claire Lenette Henry-Worrell.

"She tried to explain that they were just young kids partying," the anonymous neighbor said. "We never had a problem until they moved in three months ago. You expect city things - parking, maybe a little speeding, but nothing like shootings."

District C-11 commander Capt. Thomas Lee confirmed, "People were in danger. We have information that it was a stash house for firearms and drugs."

In addition to marijuana, a "large quantity" of cocaine wrapped in duct tape and assorted drug paraphernalia, police seized from a basement "club room" a loaded AK-47 assault rifle and five semi-automatic handguns, including a pearl-handled Lorcin, that were pulled from a wall and a suspended ceiling.

The AK-47 "was loaded and ready to go," Lee said.

Also recovered was a bulletproof vest. Sources said the Jamaicans were feuding with another gang.

Boston Fire Department spokesman Lt. Richard Powers said it took 50 firefighters to knock down the blaze started by a candle unattended on a sewing table in Henry-Worrell's bedroom. She could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"The candle either tipped over or just burned because there was no protection under it," Powers said.

The duplex also was occupied by a woman and her 8-year-old son, but Lee said police have not jumped to make arrests because, "I don't believe everyone living in the house is involved."

Police did arrest Henry-Worrell's nephew, Cravins Ducheine, 23, on a warrant out of Newton District Court for driving with a suspended license.

Sources said Henry-Worrell hadn't even finished unpacking when her apartment went up in flames.

Spared the devastation were the flowers she'd planted in the front yard that left a soft spot for her in the heart of neighbor Michael Bacon. He questioned whether Henry-Worrell was even aware of what was allegedly going on under her own roof.

"It sounds cynical, but these days, what's going to shock you?" Bacon said when told about the guns and drugs. "I never felt afraid of them. Until the bullets (started flying), they were just loud kids. To me, it wasn't a problem."

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