Essex County Sheriff charges six inmates involved in serious jail fight

Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger says incident “one of the most serious” he’s seen

MIDDLETON, Mass. — Criminal charges have been filed against six individuals involved in a serious fight that occurred within the Middleton Jail & House of Correction on Oct. 22, 2022.

“This incident was one of the most serious that has occurred in my six years as sheriff. Six inmates, some armed with shanks, attacked a fellow inmate and a violent altercation ensued,” Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger said. “The correctional officers and K9s that responded put their own safety at risk to prevent other staff and inmates from being injured. I commend them for their bravery and professionalism.”

Two inmates and two officers sustained minor injuries during the altercation. All were taken to local hospitals and treated, but none of the injuries required hospitalization. Three shanks were immediately discovered in the vicinity of the altercation, and eight more weapons were recovered during a subsequent week-long search of the entire Middleton facility.

The six men who will be charged are suspected gang members and were incarcerated at Middleton while awaiting trial on various charges, including murder and attempted murder.

The men facing charges in the Oct. 22 incident include:

  • Adrian Corniel De La Cruz, 18, of Lawrence, charged with two counts of armed assault with intent to murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
  • Jorge Delgado-Medina, 26, of Melrose, charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, and assault with a dangerous weapon.
  • Julio Cruz, 24, of Lawrence, charged with two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault with a dangerous weapon.
  • Johan Aquino, 22, of Lawrence, charged with assault and battery.
  • Luis Perlera, 19, of Lunenberg, charged with assault and battery. 
  • Lennox Pierre-Louis, 21, of Roxbury, charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Sheriff Coppinger said there has been an increase in inmate aggression at Essex County correctional facilities as the numbers of those waiting to be tried on violent and gang-related crime continues to increase. As of Nov. 1, 2022, 40 percent of the county’s detainees were facing or being held on violent charges, including murder, attempted murder, rape, and assault. The Essex County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for the custody of the largest incarcerated population outside of Boston, with a daily average of more than 1,100 inmates.

“The safety of all my officers and all inmates is my highest priority. In my six years, I have overhauled and bolstered our training for these types of scenarios and that training was put to good use in this incident,” Sheriff Coppinger said. “The job of a correctional officer is one of the most difficult and stressful in all of law enforcement, and I praise my employees for the work they do each and every day to provide for a safer, more secure Essex County.”

The Essex County District Attorney will be prosecuting these cases.