The violent rise and comic fall of Yo Pesci, auteur of fentanyl trafficking

The violent rise and comic fall of Yo Pesci, auteur of fentanyl trafficking

And so farewell to the great North Shore thug known on the Internet as “Yo Pesci.”

His real name is Ernest Johnson, age 34, and for a while he was what you might call an underworld “influencer.”

But on Thursday, he will be sentenced in federal court here in Boston after pleading guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

Yo Pesci is going to say goodbye to Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. He will say hello to the Bureau of Prisons.

You can say Yo Pesci’s next movie is, “Ernest goes to jail for 120 months.”

Before his incarceration, however, he was something of a gangsta pioneer.

As a member of what the FBI called the Caruso Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), he developed a “rather unique role as an Internet spokesperson for the DTO and its activities,” as the feds put it in their pre-sentence report to the judge. .

Yo Pesci was a bad actor on the streets – and in prison. In addition to the usual gun violence associated with drug dealing, he once threatened to “shoot up” an emergency shelter where his girlfriend had fled. He repeatedly threw urine on guards at the Worcester County House of Correction.

To be clear, Yo Pesci is a terrible person. But he also served as the comic consigliore for Vincent “Fatz” Caruso, the 28-year-old boss of the gang. Fatz now finds himself in prison at Whitey Bulger’s last pen in Hazelton, W.Va.

Caruso — BOP #52897-509 — is so evil that he is not scheduled for release until 2039. The Caruso DTO sold large amounts of fentanyl, which during the crew’s 2018-22 heyday killed more than 1,000 people in their home base of Essex County alone.

They machine-gunned other gangstas while pocketing millions in their deadly criminal enterprises. They gambled $400,000 at a single casino in New Hampshire over a four-month period in 2021.

But the Caruso DTO didn’t just run the mean streets of Lynn and Revere, they had an… Internet presence.

And the impresario, the name above the title as it were, was Yo Pesci. This is his review from the US Attorney:

“He broadcast live videos threatening rival drug dealers, accusing people of being informants for law enforcement, showcasing the DTO’s arsenal of firearms… In short, after the accused trafficked in death and misery, the Accused would then take to the internet to brag about his exploits.”

Yes, Your Honor, but Yo Pesci always ran a cowardly riot. Even the Fed concedes as much.

“Underneath the veneer of comedy and entertainment and the unnecessary use of the word ‘allegedly’, the Defendant’s videos did not leave much to the imagination. The ‘Yo Pesci’ show was not just entertainment.”

Citing one of Yo Pesci’s biggest hits, the Feds cite the video he posted after returning from a night of relaxation at the world-famous Squire Lounge in Revere. He live-streamed himself throwing several firearms in the air while yelling to the camera, “We got a lot of them!” and “We are ready to go to war!”

Like his boss Fatz Caruso, Yo Pesci never wasted much time at the salad bar, nor did he exercise. And he rarely wore shirts, which only added to his comical personality. Think man boobs.

In one video posted by the feds, he expresses his joy over some woman being hospitalized and then does a cartwheel — pretty impressive for a guy who goes three bills easily.

Then he tries a second cartwheel… and falls over. That’s what I mean by the slapstick comedy. This is good stuff, and the Fed knows it.

On the court website, they posted 29 of his top tangs, er, videos. In a college film studies class, the professors would call it a tribute to Yo Pesci’s oeuvre, perhaps worthy of a monograph in some modern version of Cahiers du Cinema.

My personal favorite is “Yo Pesci in Cuffs,” nearly nine minutes recorded in the back seat of a police cruiser in Atlanta. Yo Pesci appears to have “fallen asleep” at the wheel of a rental car and then crashed into a parked armored truck. Bad things happen to bad people, I guess.

As the scene begins, he somehow turns over his smartphone and records himself begging the policeman who arrested him to cut him loose. Yo Pesci addressed the cop as both “bro” and “dawg,” and apologized for lying to him about a New Hampshire driver’s license.

“I do Facebook comedy,” he says, which is actually true.

Yo Pesci tells dawg that he is in pain, but brother points out that he did not ask for any medical assistance at the scene.

“You see nothing wrong with me,” Yo Pesci told him, “because God is on my bleeping side, brother!”

Then Yo Pesci starts talking to the policeman and to himself at the same time. It’s a monologue reminiscent of Dutch Schultz’s death drive after he and Abbadabba Berman were shot to death at the Palace Chop House in Newark in 1935.

“All I ask is a little slack to lock me up. It’s crazy dawg I’m not even from here bro….Back in jail (n-word) one time a-bleepin’ win…. The airbag popped in my face! … You thought I was going to sit down and lose my mom beep-bleep-beep-beep stick a fork in that beep cause it’s done with, my life is way more important than that beep…. What about BLM happen? You with that movement? … I’m not sitting here and pissing you off bro, I did lie about the license man, but I’m in pain … I’m putting up with you, take a breather!”

What a tour de force! Hooray for Hollywood. But now the feds are asking the judge to let Yo Pesci off the hook, once and for all.

“The Defendant needs to find other outlets for his talents other than shooting up rival drug dealers’ house and bragging about it online … polluting the internet with threats and allegations of violence.”

The G-men are asking for a 10-year bit. Yo Pesci, what can your fans say, except, it’s show biz.

(You can watch an edited version of “Yo Pesci in Cuffs” at

Courtesy / US District Court

Ernest Johnson, perhaps better known as “Yo Pesci,” served as a sort of “comic consigliore” to mob leader Vincent “Fatz” Caruso, seen here in an undated court filing photo. (Courtesy / US District Court)

Ernest "Yo Pesci" Johnson rarely wore a shirt in his comedic videos, and, as Howie says, "Think man boobs." (Courtesy / US District Court)
Ernest “Yo Pesci” Johnson rarely wore a shirt in his comedic videos, and, as Howie says, “Think man boobs.” (Courtesy / US District Court)
Ernest Johnson, or "Yo Pesci," had a knack for showing off his gangs "thank you," or the guns they used to enforce their fentanyl trade.  (Courtesy / US District Court)
Ernest Johnson, or “Yo Pesci,” had a knack for showing his gangs “thangs,” or the guns they used to enforce their fentanyl trade. (Courtesy / US District Court)
It's not just a thank you for making these stacks, Ernest Johnson, or "Yo Pesci," chances.  (Courtesy / US District Court)

Courtesy / US District Court

It’s not just a favor to make these stacks, Ernest Johnson, or “Yo Pesci,” might say. (Courtesy / US District Court)

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