Federal agents break up cocaine trafficking ring operating out of Fidelis Way in Brighton, Boston

Boston’s total population reached a peak in 1950, with just over 800,000 residents. Like many major U.S. cities, Boston experienced significant population decline in the post-World War II era. By 1980, the total fell to under 563,000 residents. Since 1980, Boston’s population grew by 18%, with the 2010 Census marking the first time since 1970 that the total exceeded 600,000 people.

During the 1950 - 1980 timeframe, the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, South End, South Boston, and East Boston accounted for 75% of the city’s population loss.

Boston neighborhoods map

Changes in total population were accompanied by significant shifts in demographic composition. In 1950, Boston was only 5.3% non-White, but the city’s Hispanic and non-White populations have grown consistently since then. Boston became a majority-minority city in 2000, and by 2015, the city was 54.5% Hispanic or non-White.

The Black/African-American share of Boston’s population increased from 5% in 1950 to 23% in 1990, and has remained steady since then.

In terms of both total population and demographic composition, Brighton in northwest Boston has remained relatively stable. Between 1950 and 1980, Brighton's population fell by only 3.8%. Thanks to that relatively small decline, Brighton had become Boston's second largest neighborhood by 1980.

In 1950, 86% of Boston’s small non-White population lived in Roxbury or the South End. Through 2015, the non-White population had grown significantly and spread into many of Boston's neighborhoods, but the effect on Brighton was relatively limited.

Drug trafficking in the Fidelis Way public housing development in Brighton

Twenty-four members and associates of Boston-based street gangs were charged in federal court in Boston last week; some in connection with trafficking cocaine in a Brighton housing development, and others for operating a large-scale drug trafficking organization.

According to charging documents, since November 2018, federal and local authorities conducted an investigation code-named “Operation Snowfall” into drug trafficking activities by Boston-based street gangs. The first part of the investigation focused on Fidelis Way, a multi-apartment public housing development in Brighton. It is alleged that the defendants assumed control over multiple Fidelis Way apartments, where they stored, cooked, packaged and sold drugs. As a result, their activities caused a blight on the development and, as the announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts describes it, reduced the quality of life of the other residents.

The second part of the investigation targeted large scale drug suppliers and their associates among Boston's street gangs. One defendant, Eric Davis, even traveled to California in April 2020 to try to obtain multiple kilograms of cocaine.

Over the course of the investigation, agents purchased and seized approximately 1.7 kilograms of cocaine and cocaine base, approximately 27 pounds of marijuana, approximately $200,000 in cash, over 200 rounds of ammunition and 11 firearms.

In addition, 17 search warrants were executed on June 24 in Brighton, Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Randolph, Holbrook and Braintree, all in Boston or part of the Greater Boston area. Approximately 30 firearms, a half kilo of cocaine and $350,000 were seized in that effort.

The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release up to life and a fine of up to $1 million.