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Lynn man may have mutilated own hands to avoid identification by police

REVERE – The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office released more details Tuesday about a suspected Lynn narcotics trafficker who mutilated his fingertips to prevent identification.Rafael L. Cesareo’s fingertips were so extensively chewed and burned it was impossible for undercover state police detectives to be certain the suspect under arrest for narcotics trafficking was actually the man they thought he was.The person tentatively identified as Cesareo, and two alleged accomplices from Revere, were nabbed Jan. 31 following a sting operation during which they repeatedly sold heroin and crack cocaine to undercover police, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.”The man’s fingerprints were unrecognizable. The tips of his fingers were mutilated such that it was impossible to get a set of prints. Simply impossible,” said Wark. “The tips had been mangled to make the prints unclear. Detectives familiar with this kind of thing said the fingertips had been either chewed or burned off.”During the booking process, police were unable to obtain an impression using traditional inkpad and paper. “We’ll be moving to take an ink impression of the entire hand,” said Wark. “It’s sounds unusual, but it’s not unheard of, particularly among defendants in drug cases who are attempting to elude identification. We see it once or twice a year, but we have never encountered a defendant who we ultimately could not identify.”Last year, Suffolk County authorities had difficulty obtaining fingerprints from another defendant in a drug case. “The guy claimed he fell off a tractor and the accident left his fingertips scarred. Later he admitted that he had burned them off,” Wark said.Cesareo’s Massachusetts driver’s license shows his last known address as 139 Alley St. in Lynn and his date of birth as Jan. 23, 1977, making him 32 years old. Since police were unable to verify his fingerprints, a digital photograph on file with the state Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Facial Recognition Unit was used instead.The RMV database photograph depends on biometric identification technology, which measures the distance between a person’s eyes, from the top lip to the nose, and other facial features. The machine matched Cesareo with an active Massachusetts driver’s license in that name – as well as to a denied license application under the name Jonathan Caez, date of birth Oct. 22, 1976.”We want to be 100 percent certain Cesareo is his true name and that the license shows his true date of birth,” Wark said.The undercover sting at 54 Shirley Ave., conducted from Jan. 17 to Jan. 31 with assistance from Revere police, also netted occupants Retnaldo Martino, 36, and Eliezer Sanchez-Correa.According to Wark, the trio was selling heroin and cocaine as part of a drug ring. They were arraigned Friday in Chelsea District Court. Cesareo was ordered held without bail and remains in the Nashua Street Jail in Boston. He was charged with six crimes involving possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute it in or near a school or park.Martino and Sanchez-Correa were also charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking. Martino, a fugitive wanted in New York state, was ordered held without bail and additionally charged with intimidation of a witness. Sanchez-Correa remains behind bars in lieu of $500,000 cash bail.”Criminal defendants will go to great lengths to elude law enforcement,” Conley said. “This sort of self-mutilation is fortunately rare, but even that couldn’t prevent us from identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting him.”Law enforcement authorities also use DNA matches and biometric fingerprint or retinal scans as means of identifying a suspect.Legend has it that the notorious outlaw John Dillinger paid plastic surgeons $5,000 in the mid-1930s to alter his facial features and burn off his fingerprints with acid. An autopsy later showed that the doctors had been less than thorough, since fatty ridges were sti

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