Jose Baez was arrested Monday as he returned to his home in the Dorchester neighborhood, the Boston Globe reported. Investigators said they had tracked him using a GPS device they put on his car and knew he had been in the area of a fire at a house in Roslindale.
Police said the car contained wooden matches and gasoline stored in Poland Spring water bottles.
The Roslindale fire was allegedly aimed at three gamblers who were Baez's former criminal associates. He has also been charged with starting fires at his dentist's office and an auto repair shop.
Investigators say Baez may have been responsible for other recent arsons.
"He's demonstrated he was willing to retaliate," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Tobin said in a federal court hearing Tuesday. "He was disgruntled, he was unhappy."
Prosecutors asked for pre-trial detention. The magistrate made no decision Tuesday.