(BOSTON) — The accused heroin dealer whom officials say provided a handgun to the alleged Boston Marathon bombers told police last year that he did drugs himself to cope with his close link to the deadly twin explosions, a police report and law enforcement sources said.
“I smoke a lot of weed every day because my best friend was the bomber,” Stephen Silva said, based on a police report written after he was busted in November 2013 for allegedly dealing marijuana.
Law enforcement officials told ABC News that by “best friend,” Silva was referring to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a former classmate of Silva’s and the man charged with setting off the Boston Marathon bombs in April 2013 with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Silva, 21, had been out on bail awaiting a court date scheduled for next week in connection to the state’s marijuana charges when he was taken into federal custody Monday and accused of dealing heroin in June 2014.
In addition to the new heroin charges, court documents also accuse Silva of at one point possessing a handgun, a “Ruger model P95 9mm pistol,” in early 2013 that law enforcement sources told ABC News is the same one later used by Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a shootout with police three days after the Boston Marathon bombing. Authorities believe the gun was also used to murder MIT police officer Sean Collier hours before the shootout with police.
Though the Tsarnaevs are not mentioned in court documents regarding Silva’s gun possession charges, law enforcement officials told ABC News they believe Silva gave Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the weapon and that Dzhokhar and Silva were close.
On Tuesday, Silva told the federal magistrate judge that he graduated from Cambridge Rindge & Latin, the same high school from which the younger Tsarnaev graduated, with honors. Silva said he graduated in 2011, the same year as Tsarnaev.
In a run-in with authorities on the Fourth of July in 2012, cops reported a Steven Silva — rather than Stephen — and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were discovered together drinking alcohol in a Honda registered to Dzhokhar. Stephen Silva has an identical twin brother named Steven, sources said, but police believe that it was really Stephen in the car with the younger Tsarnaev. The November 2013 police report also had the offender listed as Steven, but fingerprints taken after his arrest identified him as Stephen Silva, the same man arraigned in federal court Tuesday, law enforcement sources said.
Stephen Silva said in court Tuesday he lives with his mother and stepfather, and added that his brother “moved away” and works as a car salesman. State and federal sources said Steven and Dzhokhar knew each other but were not friends.
Stephen Silva did not enter a plea during his initial appearance Tuesday, and is being held until his bail hearing in August. His trial on the Nov. 2013 marijuana arrest will be postponed, Suffolk County prosecutors said.
Late Tuesday, Silva’s attorney, Jonathan Shapiro, issued a statement that notes there is no mention of Tsarnaev in his client’s most recent indictment.
“I am in the process of meeting with my client and reviewing the available evidence, which will eventually be presented in a court of law in accordance with our system of justice,” Shapiro said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the shootout with police on April 18, 2013. Dzhokhar was injured but survived and was later captured. He has pleaded not guilty to some 30 charges related to the bombing. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Jason Hanna, CNN
Sara Zendehnam, CNN
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN