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DA seeks identity of drug suspect

Email|Print| Text size + By Kate Augusto
Globe Correspondent / February 5, 2008

Some people go to extraordinary lengths to conceal their identity, authorities say.

But law enforcement officials say they have not seen a suspect yet whose name they could not nail down.

Yesterday, they were working to confirm the identity of a suspect with no fingerprints.

State Police narcotics detectives arrested the man and two others late Thursday. Authorities said they ran a major drug ring in Revere.

A man believed to be Rafael Cesareo of Revere had burned or chewed off his fingertips in the past, to prevent investigators from identifying him, said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office.

"Out of the hundreds or even thousands of cases we get each year, we see this sort of thing once or twice," Wark said. "Far more often, we see them having an alias or maybe a few aliases."

The suspect seems to fit both descriptions. Investigators took his booking photo to the Registry of Motor Vehicles Facial Recognition Unit and found the face matched more than one listing, Wark said.

The first was an active registration for a Massachusetts driver's license, and the second was a denied application for a license under another name.

Wark was confident the suspect would be identified.

"I have spoken with members of narcotics, and we have not found a defendant yet who we could not ultimately identify," Wark said.

Investigators plan to take prints of the suspect's entire fingers and palms today, to determine whether they are on file. Wark said they are taking the identification process one step at a time, but if the man can't be positively identified that way, authorities might try DNA testing.

The suspect was arraigned Friday at Chelsea District Court on charges of cocaine trafficking, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the state's drug laws. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Also arraigned on similar charges were Retnaldo Martino, also known as Luis Ferrara, of Revere and Eliezer Sanchez-Correa.

The suspect believed to be Cesareo was held without bail. Sanchez-Correa was held on $500,000 cash bail, and Martino was held without bail as a fugitive from New York.

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