Judy Sanchez may not have lived a perfect life, but she wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition. Apparently confused by Spanish surnames, or unable to believe that Vasquez and Sanchez were not the same thing, FBI special agents from the notorious Boston field office — the same outfit that helped mobsters James “Whitey” Bulger and Steve “Rifleman” Flemmi commit over a dozen murders, and framed innocent (of those crimes, not choirboys) men for them — cut down her door with a chain saw.
The local paper in Fitchburg, Mass., a bleak former-factory town where Sanchez raises her daughter alone, with public assistance, and attends a few classes at the local state college, takes it from there:
Sanchez doesn’t know how long she was held on the floor, but estimates it was between 30 and 45 minutes while her daughter cried in the other room. It was a cold morning, and she was not allowed to put warm clothes on.
“I was still at gunpoint the whole time. I was freezing,” Sanchez said.
The FBI agents kept asking her where Luis Vasquez was, and she said she didn’t know.
Remember the old movie, Marathon Man, “Is it safe?” I’ll say one thing for the Bureau: they’ve really internalized that mantra of Speed, Surprise and Violence of Action. We in SF got crucified in the press for considerably less-violent raids in the combat zone, in search of real armed bad guys. We never terrified a puppy into pissing itself, like these FBI heroes.
Sanchez and her daughter live in apartment 2R, which is located in the rear of the building. The other apartment on the floor, 2F, is at the front and is the home of Luis R. “Joker” Vasquez, but Sanchez said she only knew him as “Jay.”
The motto of the FBI: “Close enough for government work!” Hey, they got the right floor. For the Boston SAC, thar’s probably worth some kind of commendation, but at least they’re not helping the mob plug operations security leaks by whacking informers. Then again, maybe it’s some of the same guys… of the six-plus FBI agents moonlighting for Bulger, only two faced any consequences, and only one is in jail.
He still gets his pension, even while sitting in the can. Some things are sacrosanct to federal employees, and no federal-employre judge is going to mess with the rice bowl of a fellow federal employee, even if he has to send him to crowbar motel. So what about the intended target of the Fitchburg Chain Saw Massacre?
Vasquez, 41, is believed to be the leader of the local arm of the Sex, Money, Murda gang and was captured in his apartment.
OK, Vasquez was likely a real bad guy — we’re willing to stipulate that whatever a crew called Sex, Money, Murda does, it doesn’t increase the civic capital and good fellowship in town. Got it. And he does probably deserve to be in pokey — if he’s convicted on everything he faces 40 years. And they did get him, in his apartment, omce they figured out they had the wrong place. (This other news story makes it clear that they only hit Vasquez’s apartment after taking down Sanchez). We guess that just like all those Irish and Mormon FBI guys with white shirts and rep ties, all Hispanics look alike to outsiders.
They held her and her wailing 3-year-old under gunpoint, separately, she says, for 40 minutes. The FBI says it was not that long (probably true, because time drags when you’re face down in a puddle of dog piss with some wannabe ninja’s Danner boot on your neck). But then, they can’t say how long it was because that’s a state secret… so maybe she’s right.
Then they left, with a mumbled apology, leaving behind a card. The card had the numbers of one of the Boston ASACs, and of FBI lawyer Damon Katz. Sanchez called but got no satisfaction: platitudes. Katz’s tone sent his message well enough: F you. We have sovereign immunity. You’re probably guilty of something, and should be grateful we left you live.
Meanwhile, Katz recorded the calls to use against her if she sues. Was he there when the Boston Field Office was controlled by the Bulger Brothers’ murderous mob? Maybe, probably not. But he’d have fit right in.
Image: Judy Sanchez’s door, Judy’s photo via the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise.