By now, it has likely become a familiar sight to many – people wandering outdoors, their eyes trained on their smartphones, seemingly in search of something unseen.
The release of “Pokémon Go” – an “augmented reality” game for mobile devices, based on a universe of fictional creatures created in part by Nintendo – has become an international phenomenon. Reactions have been predictably mixed, with some baffled by its popularity and others glad to see a video game getting young people outdoors and active.
The game has also produced a broad range of news, including some negative headlines involving players too deeply engrossed in the virtual world. Last week, city officials issued statements urging players to be safe and respectful in their travels.
Mayor Allan Fung’s statement reads: “Pokémon Go fans, while enjoying the challenges that this game brings, please, first and foremost, be safe. Be aware of your surroundings and be mindful of private property of Cranston homeowners and businesses. Please do not trespass into your neighbor’s yard to catch Pikachu or disrupt a business like a store or restaurant to catch Snorlax. I encourage our residents to enjoy this worldwide phenomenon in a responsible manner.”
The Cranston Police Department, in a Facebook message, urged players not to used mobile games when driving and to “please be respectful of private property when on foot using the app.”
“Find other ways to play safely,” the message reads, followed by several hashtags and the closing message: “Eyes on the road, Pokémon masters.”
Two West Warwick men are facing federal charges following an investigation into alleged drug trafficking and bank fraud.
Robert Wilkins, 25, and Christian M. Domenech, 24, were both ordered held following an initial court appearance on June 12, according to a statement from the office of U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.
Wilkins is charged with 15 counts of distribution of crack cocaine and three counts of distribution of heroin, as well as one count each of conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine, conspiracy to distribute heroin, and bank fraud.
Domenech is charged with 12 counts of distribution of crack cocaine and three counts of distribution of heroin, along with one count each of conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine, conspiracy to distribute heroin, and bank fraud.
At the time of their arrests, both men were under court-conditioned release in connection with unrelated criminal cases.
Neronha’s statement indicates the arrests followed a three-month investigation conducted by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force. That operation included “numerous purchases from the defendants of crack cocaine and heroin, ranging from one gram to seven grams for between $80 dollars and $350 dollars.” Police monitored all of those transactions.
Additionally, the Rhode Island State Police Financial Crimes Unit is said to have determined through its own investigation that the two suspects, starting in December 2015, “allegedly created and deposited bogus checks into bank accounts each established and withdrew some of those funds.” Domenech is alleged to have deposited a total of $10,000 in bogus checks and withdrawn $2,000, while Wilkins is alleged to have deposited $10,000 and withdrawn nearly $2,100.
The execution of a search warrant at the suspects’ home on Church Street in West Warwick is said to have resulted in the seizure of $800 in cash, along with undetermined quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin.
Cranston police are among the participating agencies in the FBI task force.