Alleged drug dealers held after struggle

Informant assists sting in E. Boston

Jorge Luis Ortiz Lara, 22, of Palmer was arraigned yesterday in East Boston District Court, charged with distributing heroin. Jorge Luis Ortiz Lara, 22, of Palmer was arraigned yesterday in East Boston District Court, charged with distributing heroin. (ZARA TZANEV FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / July 25, 2008

A Jamaica Plain man was arraigned on multiple drug charges yesterday after he was shot Wednesday night during a struggle with a police officer working on an undercover drug investigation.

Ariel Lara Aguasviva, 18, who was hospitalized for a superficial chest wound, was arraigned in East Boston District Court on charges of distributing heroin, assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest. His cousin, Jorge Luis Ortiz Lara, 22, of Palmer, was also arraigned, charged with distributing heroin. His lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

According to court records, Ortiz was driving a white 2008 BMW X5, and Aguasviva was riding in the front passenger seat when Boston police, conducting surveillance on an alleged drug deal between the men and an informant, stopped the vehicle on Princeton Street in East Boston.

The informant had approached police earlier and told them he had knowledge of drug dealing in East Boston, according to the court records.

The informant, working with officers from the department's Drug Control Unit and State Police, arranged a drug purchase from the suspects, and on Wednesday night, got into the suspects' sport utility vehicle at Saratoga and Chelsea streets. Police said Aguasviva then pulled a small quantity of wrapped heroin out of his mouth and handed it to Ortiz.

The informant handed Ortiz money to complete the buy, and Ortiz handed the drugs to the informant, according to the court documents.

Ortiz allegedly drove to Princeton Street and was approached at 8:30 p.m. by an unmarked police cruiser with activated blue lights. The informant got out of the SUV, and two officers approached the vehicle displaying their badges, but Ortiz and Aguasviva remained inside, with both their doors locked, according to court records.

Both officers said they watched Aguasviva swallow what appeared to be drugs. At that point, one of the officers got inside the vehicle through an unlocked back passenger door and attempted to restrain Aguasviva, but Aguasviva struggled with the officer and violently resisted, police said.

"At that time, a firearm was discharged," according to court records.

Ortiz's lawyer, Michael MacDonald, said moments after his client's arraignment that the court records' account of the shooting is vague and that the police account of what happened is dramatically different than his client's.

"I can't give the specifics of what actually happened at this point, because it is in my client's best interest not to do so now," MacDonald said outside the courthouse, with Ortiz and several of his relatives behind him. "But when the truth comes out, it will show that what the police claim to have happened is not what actually occurred."

While disputing the police record, MacDonald pointed at a large, swollen cut on Ortiz's forehead. "They beat him up," MacDonald said.

Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said, "It would be irresponsible to speculate on specifics before the firearms discharge investigation team completes its investigation."

Drisoll said police did not find a weapon on either of the suspects or in the vehicle. Police recovered the heroin the suspects allegedly sold to the informant and seized $492 from Ortiz.

Ortiz posted $500 cash bail and was released pending a pretrial hearing on Sept. 10. He was ordered to stay out of East Boston.

For Aguasviva, bail was set at $3,000 with the conditions that he adhere to a curfew between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and stay out of East Boston.

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