DA: Drug suspect removed his fingerprints

John Ruch

ARBORTEUM AREA—A man who deliberately mutilated his own fingerprints to avoid identification was busted on June 22 near Arnold Arboretum with his pants full of heroin, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

The suspect was tentatively identified as Jorge Falcon Ortiz, 28, address unknown. Ortiz’s attorney, Thomas Amoroso, did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

“We believe the mutilation [of Ortiz’s fingerprints] was intentional,” said DA’s Office spokesperson Jake Wark in an e-mail to the Gazette. “It’s something we see once or twice a year, and almost exclusively in large-quantity drug cases.”

Wark said that fingerprint mutilation also usually only delays, rather than prevents, identification because of “various other procedures” available to prosecutors.

Those procedures include using “major case prints” of the entire hand, not just fingerprints; state DNA databases that all felons now are in; facial recognition software analysis of photographs; and database searches of aliases.

“We’ve been able to identify every single defendant who’s tried to get rid of his prints, and we expect to conclusively identify this man as well,” Wark said.

Boston Police officers arrested Ortiz after stopping his car at the intersection of South and Bussey streets at the request of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, according to the DA’s Office.

It is unclear why ICE was investigating Ortiz. An ICE spokesperson did not return a Gazette phone call for this article. Wark declined to comment on ICE’s involvement “in deference to the ongoing federal investigation.”

When police officers ordered Ortiz out of his car, they noticed a large bulge in his pants. The bulge turned out to be two bags of heroin amounting to 361 grams, according to the DA’s Office.

According to a DA’s Office press release, “Efforts to check Ortiz’s criminal record and background were unsuccessful because his fingerprints had been mutilated.”

Ortiz was charged with trafficking a Class A drug. He is being held on $500,000 cash bail.

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