FBI Cuts Down Mass. Mom's Door In Wrong-home Raid

Published February 1, 2012 11:27PM (EST)

FITCHBURG, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts mother says the FBI used a chain saw to cut through her door and held her at gunpoint for at least 30 minutes before agents realized they were conducting a raid at the wrong home.

Judy Sanchez, of Fitchburg, says she awoke to heavy footsteps in the stairwell on Jan. 26 and walked into her kitchen in time to see a blade chop through her door.

She says she was held face down, on the floor, at gunpoint while her 3-year-old daughter cried in another room.

It turns out agents were after the other tenant on the same floor of the multi-unit building. That tenant was suspected of dealing drugs.

Sanchez says she and her daughter now have trouble sleeping.

An FBI spokesman in Boston said Wednesday that the agency is paying for the damage. He said the arrest team was only in the wrong apartment for about 15 minutes, and that the special agent in charge at the scene repeatedly apologized for the mistake. But those words didn't satisfy Sanchez.

"Just a little pat on the back and saying 'I'm sorry' is not OK," Sanchez told The Sentinel and Enterprise of Fitchburg.

The botched raid was part of a two-year probe by federal and state authorities into illegal gun sales, drug trafficking and gang activities they dubbed Operation Red Wolf. FBI agents said they were looking for a suspect they identified as 41-year-old Luis R. Vasquez, who uses the street name "Joker," when they went into Sanchez's apartment.

They later arrested Vasquez and charged him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and other crimes that have him facing up to 40 years in federal prison.

By Salon Staff

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