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Two lovebirds with a taste for champagne and a love of gunplay are linked to vicious gang wars north of Boston

Couple with gun and Belair champagne

Couple with gun and Belair champagne, from FBI affidavit.

Drug and gun charges announced Wednesday against a Malden couple may be only the start of a federal crackdown on what investigators say is an increasingly violent drug-fueled gang war north of Boston in which gangs have been acquiring machine guns to spray rivals and rival turf with bullets.

An affidavit by an FBI agent who participated in building a case against Jaiir "JC" Coleman, 22, and Christina Bernbaum, 23, of Malden, said that over the past 18 months, there have been "650 separate shootings and over 1,900 rounds fired" in Chelsea, Cambridge, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Somerville and neighboring communities.

That includes Boston, where officials say a gun used as part of a fusillade that left Martin Luther King Boulevard and two intersecting streets strewn with 32 spent shells last August was linked to Coleman - whom they charge had used it earlier to spray streets in Somerville and Chelsea with bullets. Two Canton residents were arrested in connection with the Boston gunfire.

Coleman and Bernbaum were the first to be formally charged in connection with what the Boston-based feds codenamed "Operation Street Sweepah: Kings of Belaire" - the second part of the name for the way the couple and their buds are frequently seen swilling Belair champagne on recovered photos and videos. The affidavit discusses numerous "coconspirators" without naming them.

Both Coleman and Bernbaum now face charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, conspiring to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy, possessing a machine gun and possessing a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy. Bernbaum was arrested yesterday; Coleman has been held in the Essex County jail since January on gun charges.

According to the affidavit, Coleman's phone proved a treasure trove of evidence, containing "hundreds, if not thousands, of text messages, pictures, and videos pertaining to firearms and the distribution of controlled substances, including cocaine, cocaine base, fentanyl, and marijuana, dating back multiple years and corresponding to multiple kilograms of drug weight." Also useful: Music videos Coleman and an as yet unnamed coconspirator posted to YouTube showing him fondling guns connected to several incidents - as well as guzzling still more Belair champagne.

From YouTube videos:

Video allegedly showing Coleman with a gun
Video allegedly showing Coleman with a gun

The affidavit charges the pair were among the players in gang battles that saw gunfire concentrated on the streets near Somerville's Mystic Housing Projects, home to the MP-45 gang, and Cambridge's Port neighborhood, home to the the Port 44 gang. Coleman was specifically charged with firing a gun once in Chelsea and then three more times in Somerville on Nov. 11, 2019 and with opening fire on a group of people on Harvard Street in Cambridge on July 2, 2020, although he did not hit anybody.

The affidavit claims that the gangs would occasionally team up with national gangs, including the Bloods, the Crips and the Tiny Rascals Gang, a West Coast gang that is slowly morphing from consisting of members with Southeast Asian backgrounds to anybody who wants to participate in their particular brand of violence-laced drug dealing - the gang specializes in "drive-by shootings of residences of rival gang members."

The affidavit says the local gun attacks would typically be preceded by verbal jousting online:

Rivalries between these gang originate from the competing drug enterprises that these gangs operate in their respective communities. Conflicts between individuals arise over drug customers, proceeds, territory, and personal disrespect taking place over social media. Once a conflict arises, the gangs to which the individuals are affiliated become involved and the conflict expands to encompass the respective gang as well. Time and again, such conflicts that start on social media platforms, such as Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram, have escalated into gunfire on the streets.

The affidavit details Coleman's and Bernbaum's alleged activities - which included Bernbaum taking her four-year-old daughter with her on trips to distribute drugs or collect payments - and storing drugs and paraphernalia in her daughter's Minnie Mouse lunchbox.

Coleman was arrested in Lynn on Jan. 6 of this year on state gun charges - police initially stopped him because he had a suspended license, then found a loaded, fully automatic gun in a hidden compartment of the SUV - which Bernbaum, who had a valid license, had rented from Hertz.

Transcripts of his subsequent jail phone calls with Bernbaum show that, at first, Coleman had to instruct Bernbaum how to keep the drugs and profits flowing:

COLEMAN instructs BERNBAUM how to cut fentanyl and “to do it in increments because it will turn dirty.” COLEMAN then instructs BERNBAUM on the method in which to add a cutting agent to the uncut fentanyl (“fire”) without turning it a different color (“dirty”).

But as she learned the business better, she began taking control, and at one point told him she was now in charge, which did not sit well with him:

CB: Yeah, I'm, I'm sittin' here trying to get rich, nigga. There's not all this money can go to you. I'm going to fucking get my eyebrows, my eyelashes, and my nails done tomorrow. Fuck you.

JC: Yeah. All on JC. You're welcome, big daddy.

CB: No, no, no, no, no. All on Tina. This is ... this is Tina's operation now.

JC: Yeah, right. I'll slap the shit out you.

CB: Like, the fuck? You don't ... you don't know the numbers. I'll leave ... I'll leave you what you started with. Don't worry. Everything will be paid for.

On March 4, investigators with a search warrant raided Bernbaum's Malden apartment, where they found her in bed, with her four-year-old daughter lying next to her:

On the nightstand next to BERNBAUM's bed, a few feet away from where her four-year-old daughter was located, investigators located a box of plastic bags, and within the box there were two plastic bags. One of the bags contained an amount of white rock-like substance that appeared consistent with cocaine base. The other bag contained a white powdery substance that appeared consistent with cocaine and tested positive for cocaine on a field test.

If convicted on all the charges, the two could face sentences of 30 years to life.

Complete FBI affidavit (3.3M PDF).

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

I wasn't aware rental SUVs came with hidden compartments.

I'll have to ask for one on my first post-covid trip!

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have unintentional hidden compartments under armrests and within dashboards.

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How did police initially pull him over for a suspended license, if he wasn’t driving his own car whose plates they could run?

They must have pulled him over for something else, then ran his license.

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So they probably knew about his license suspension, and when they saw him driving ...

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If you've got solid intel on someone and you don't want to reveal your methods and sources, you can always pull them over for "driving erratically," which is very hard to contest.

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If he likes champagne as much as the article implies it's not a stretch to think he often drives erratically.

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Due to Covid, they aren't arresting people for driving on a suspended. My step-son was driving on suspended, got caught 3 times, once in CT, and has yet to serve time for it.

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It’s illegal to drive without a license and the police are absolutely arresting people for this crime. So thank your stepson for being a dick and driving without a license multiple times. Maybe instead of calling him out here you could direct him to the RMV and perhaps take him for a driving lesson or two.

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Can't wait to hear about him killing somone.

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For your report on these violent gangbangers. Look forward to the politicians and police chiefs response which will deny that their cities and towns are plagued by gang warfare.

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Something tells me that you ain't been to any of these places of late.

And that you would never have considered Charlestown or Southie of yore to be "plagued by gang warfare" even when they were run by gangs.

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RIP, Prince Phillip

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wannabe gangsta rappers. Not made in Champagne, so they put PRODUCT OF FRANCE on the top of the label. It should be on the sub-$10 shelf with Cold Duck, but commands a retail price of $30: a triumph of packaging and "influencer marketing" over substance.

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Isn't the champagne brand itself a triumph of packaging and old-school influencer marketing? Source: I've had lots of delightful dry sparkling wines from CA, Australia, Chile, etc...

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great sparklers not made in a specific part of France, and "made-in-the-Champagne-region" may yield a price premium that's not entirely merited by some of those wines, especially at the lower price points.

But there are also important quality controls in AOC-designated wines (hard specs on grapes used, cultivation, aging, etc.), as there are for similar designations in other wine regions (Italy's DOCG for example) that prevent fakers from glomming onto the deserved reputations of more serious producers.

I have a jaundiced eye for most heavily-marketed beers, wines and spirits. I want to pay for ingredients and craft, not advertising and packaging. But some scams are just more obvious than others -- yeah, I'm side-eyeing you, too, super-premium vodka.

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I can taste the difference between cheapest-you-can-get and mainstream middlebrow stuff. I can’t taste the difference between middlebrow and fancy. I have screwed around with USP lab alcohol (duly paid for), which ought to be pure and neutral, diluted down to 80 proof with various combinations of tap water, distilled water, and mineral water, and none of it ended up tasting all that great.

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For Tequilla and Vodka, hard to beat their house products on value.

The main deal with vodka is the number of filtrations. I knew a professor whose chemist son and daughter in law had set up shop in Alaska importing tanker loads of russian vodka and filtering it through several passes of charcoal, and selling it as high end. She gave me a bottle and it is indeed clean. So the more expensive stuff is often just filtered more. Also, I find potato vodka tastes cleaner than most, but that might just be the wonderful folks at Maine Distillers knowing what they are doing with the cold river line.

My son's gf reached for the super cheap stuff on our shelf and I warned her that it was only on the shelf for its hand sanitizer. I was not joking - talking the sub-$10 a bottle stuff from the New Hampshire State Liquor store.

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For wearing that Yankees hat.

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or the FBI's compression software, that makes those images look like late 90s digital photos? You could have told me this all happened in 1999 and the photos were taken off the accused's Geocities page and I would have believed you.

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Screenshot, inserted into an afffidavit doc, then turned into a .pdf, then screenshotted by Adam.

There is quite a bit of photographic evidence in the linked affidavit, more than many of the Capitol insurrection affidavits.

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Poor four-year old. I hope she gets a chance at a normal life and a normal family.

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That may have IDed the wrong person as her mother.

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See the most recent Facebook post by the Malden City Councilor.

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People were saying a closer relationship than that, which, as that post shows, was wrong.

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Wow. The self-pity in that post. "I'm sad to have to even write this post but politics in 2021 has reached this point...." like it wouldn't be newsworthy in any year if a city councilor's close relative was arrested for gang activity. Conservatives sure do love to play the victim, don't they?

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Not at all reasonable for even an exhausted mid-aged city councilor.

Good on her for taking on the kid - that has to be rough. But all of the other whining was very juvenile and very much besides the point when a simple "please allow our family some space in this difficult time" would have sufficed.

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City council president of Malden who had a covid party last year?

https://whdh.com/news/police-called-to-break-up-birthday-party-thrown-by...

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Adamg just deleted a thread misidentifying who's who. I'm not sure if its okay to answer, but the relation is the City Council President is her aunt. That is not a speculation, if you check Jadeane Sica-Bernbaum's Facebook Community page (not sure if it's okay to link - might be already crossing the just answering this) explicitly admitting Christina Bernbaum is her niece. The context of the whole is more about the Christina Bernbaum's 4 year old daughter though.

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That wasn't what the threads I deleted were saying, however.

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Unsurprisingly, she has dropped the Bernbaum from her name and is only listed as Jadene Sica now if you go to the Malden town website for the city council.

Seeing as these are adults and one is an elected official, I don't see the issue with naming either or disclosing their relationship.

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UnSurprisingly you didn’t check your facts before commenting. The Ward 8 Councillor page or the City of Malden website never had my last name as Bernbaum since my legal name is “Jadeane Sica”.

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Silly me, assuming that was your legal name, given that there were no retractions on the many news stories about your idiot Covid party which referred to you as Sica-Bernbaum or, you know, your own damn Facebook page has that name.

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Where you most certainly are referred to your hyphenated name.

Any explanation for that one, Jadeane?

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I mean, they are both pieces of work in their own way but unless Auntie was providing city contracts or jobs or covering their tracks or pulling strings to keep her out of legal trouble, so what?

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I mean, do you think it wasn't of interest that Whitey and Billy were brothers? Billy was never credibly accused of helping Whitey but it's worth noting. Jadeane isn't responsible for her niece's actions nor is she being asked to resign due to those actions but it is news IMO.

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Which is precisely why I brought it up on the story about the Campbells not two weeks ago. You know, the thread where you called me "stupid Libertarian."

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First, you need to be more specific as I call you a stupid Libertarian in most threads? It's something I should work on honestly.

My issue with your take was that you were stating that Cambell's brother got sweetheart treatment thanks to his super powerful [checks notes] Boston City Councilor sister. It's certainly news but a) that was not new information unlike this story and b) again, your allegation of favoritism was whack.

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Her name was never Sica - Bernbaum on her counselor page where it is NOT her legal name
Please check your facts before being so judgmental

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That I referred to her as the name she is always referred to in articles about her stupid behavior or her criminal niece. My bad.

Will you make gay wedding cakes or nah?

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