Did the Culture that Feeds the Drug War Help Lead to Boston Bombing?

If the police hadn't botched the investigation of the murder of some drug dealers, would the bombing have even happened?


Ibragim Todashev
Orange County Booking Photo

Following the Boston Marathon Bombing, FBI agents ended up investigating the possibility that one of the alleged bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now deceased, may have also been involved in a triple homicide in 2011 possibly connected to the drug trade. Their investigation put them in connection with a friend of Tsarnaev's named Ibragim Todashev, also apparently a suspect in this triple homicide.

But we may never know the truth, as FBI agents shot him to death during an interview in May 2013 and have been concealing the details of what happened on that fateful day. Now in a detailed long piece in Boston Magazine, a journalist who knew one of the victims of the triple homicide attempts to put together the chain of events from the trio's killing to the FBI's post-bombing efforts, which appear to involve forcing anybody who knew Todashev out of the country.

A few useful nuggets from Susan Zalkind's piece:

  • Of the three victims of an extremely gory homicide from 2011, at least two were drug dealers. Police naturally assumed their careers were involved and interrogated friends and family. Zalkind notes: "Then there were leads that the detectives seemed to ignore. They never visited the Wai Kru gym in Allston, where Brendan [Mess, one of the men killed] practiced mixed martial arts several times a week, according to gym owner John Allan. They never spoke to his training partner and best friend, Golden Gloves champion Tamerlan Tsarnaev, even though several friends gave the police his name in a list of Brendan's closest contacts."
  • The police at that time didn't seem to feel much pressure to solve the case. Ten days after their bodies were found, the mother of one of the victim's was told the detectives weren't actively pursuing leads anymore and were waiting for somebody down the line to offer up potential information to get a plea bargain for something else.
  • Thus Zalkind suggests, "If Waltham police had figured out who hacked three men to death on September 11, 2011, there's a good chance we would not be talking about the Boston Marathon bombings. Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Ibragim Todashev might be alive and in jail. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might be just another mop-headed, no-name stoner at UMass Dartmouth. There would be no One Fund. Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard would still be alive. Sean Collier would have graduated from the MIT police department to the Somerville Police Department by now. And for the friends and family of the three men who died in Waltham, perhaps their grief would not still be paired with such haunting questions."

Read Zalkind's full piece here, and take note of the FBI's post-bombing behavior. Ibraham's roommate/girlfriend was deported, and she claims it was because she spoke to Boston Magazine. Furthermore, when Ibraham was still alive and FBI was tracking him, they apparently watched as he got into a violent fight in a parking lot and didn't do a thing.

While we still don't know for sure why the drug dealers were killed, it's always worth a reminder that a certain amount of violence in the drug trade is a direct result of its black market status. Whatever disagreement may have led to this violence, if it involved drugs, the men couldn't go to the law for help. And even after they got murdered, the police didn't seem to care enough to make solving the case a top priority.

Who cares what happens to a couple of drug dealers, right?